A fresh, winning blend of natural science, simple storyline, tenderness, and perseverance.

THIRSTY, THIRSTY ELEPHANTS

As drought dries up the usual sources of water for elephants in Tanzania, Little Calf’s grandmother relies on her memory to lead the elephants to a new source.

“It’s a hot, dry day in Tanzania. Grandma elephant stops munching leaves. Thirsty, she lifts her trunk high and takes a deep SNIFF! Grandma smells water in the distance and sets off.” The accessible, fact-packed language continues, as does the gentle humor provided by Little Calf, who is still learning how to effectively use her trunk. The story is not without suspense, as place after place offers little or no water to the herd that follows Grandma. Little Calf even collapses at one point, but her mother revives her quickly and cleverly, keeping her shaded after that. Colorful, mixed-media illustrations are a perfect match to the thoughtful text. Details range from the parched ground to tropical birds; from distant gazelles to the up-close, leathery skin of elephants in many positions and moods. According to the author’s note, the tale is based on a hypothesis that the reason one particular elephant herd managed so well during a 1994 drought rested squarely on their elderly leader. She apparently used her childhood memories of surviving an earlier drought to lead her herd to that same, still-available watering hole. Further elephant facts and resources round out the backmatter.

A fresh, winning blend of natural science, simple storyline, tenderness, and perseverance. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-634-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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