A mildly humorous story that doesn’t really stand out in the crowded arena of interspecies friendship.

PUG MEETS PIG

A little dog named Pug is perfectly happy in his cozy, suburban world until pushy Pig moves in.

Pug lives in a big house with a fenced backyard and his own little doghouse to sleep in. Pig arrives (seemingly out of nowhere) wearing a friendly smile and a dress with a ruffled collar. She moves right in on Pug’s territory, slurping up his dog food, making friends with the neighbor cat, and taking over Pug’s doghouse. Pug is ready to leave home, but a new doggy door (installed by the unseen owner) gives him the ability to get in and out of the main house, while Pig can’t fit through the little door. Pug takes pity on poor Pig, gnawing on the door to enlarge it so it can be a “piggy door” for Pig’s convenience as well. Pug and Pig then immediately begin to share everything, becoming best friends and living happily together. Pug’s abrupt change of heart is a bit too sudden to be believable, with Pig not really earning her acceptance as a new housemate. The simple, understated text with just a few words on each page will be enjoyed by younger preschoolers and will also be accessible to new readers, and the jaunty, oversized illustrations have a cheerful, straightforward appeal that suits the text. The only human characters are three neighbor children who can be seen peeking over the fence at Pug and Pig; all are children of color. Pig and Pug, by Lynne Barry and illustrated by Gemma Correll (2015), covers similar territory but with more sophisticated humor.

A mildly humorous story that doesn’t really stand out in the crowded arena of interspecies friendship. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2066-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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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