Pure fun; readers and preschoolers will applaud both the silliness and practicalities presented.

NOT NOW, COW

Animal friends on the farm are ready to enjoy the pleasures of each new season—but Cow displays confusion over what is expected.

In a double-page spread before the title page, an excited Rooster crows, “SPRING IS ALMOST HERE!” Spring is announced immediately after the title page, and readers see Duck watering her newly emerged sprouts, Sheep flying a kite, and Goat enjoying the spring showers. Cow, however, appears dressed in mittens, a heavy scarf, and hat. “Oh Cow. Not now,” says Rooster. Summer arrives, and with it swimming, beach play, and ice cream cones, but Cow is ready with a sled, snow boots, and heavy sweater. And again Rooster tells her, “Oh Cow. Not now.” Amusing illustrations in bold colors reflect each season’s attributes while the succinct and simple rhyming text details the animals’ activities. The fall scenario shows orange and brown leaves falling with Horse raking, Chick munching on an apple, and Sheep carving a pumpkin: “Horse is ready. / Builds a pile. / Chick is ready. / Snacks awhile. // Sheep is ready. / Adds a smile.” But a parka-clad Cow is set on skiing. Rooster: “Oh, Cow. Just…wow.” When, in winter, Cow shows up in a bathing suit and flippers, her exasperated friends finally tell her, “We need to talk.” Readers might wonder whether Cow is just innocently clueless or expressing her individualism. Kids will nevertheless be eager to repeat the refrain, the predictable structure of the page turns and pacing expertly cuing them. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 61.9% of actual size.)

Pure fun; readers and preschoolers will applaud both the silliness and practicalities presented. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4629-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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