It’s capably enough executed, but there are no surprises here.


An extraterrestrial spaceship crashes into the “Goldilocks” fairy tale in this mashup metafictive picture book.

Prince Zilch, from Planet Zero, is unexpectedly bumped out of his book and into Goldilocks & 3 Bears, where his presence alters the plot considerably. Determined to find his way back to his own book, he enlists the help of the bewildered bears, who were picking blueberries (being sick of porridge) when the alien landed. The familiar trappings of the “Goldilocks” story are put into service with this new plot: the three chairs are balanced one on top of the other to try to boost Prince Zilch out of the confines of the book—and Baby Bear’s chair breaks. Next, the three mattresses are stacked into a makeshift trampoline, and the bears make reference to their springiness (“That’s what you think,” Goldilocks mutters). Davies’ flattish, colorful illustrations, dotted with variously colored speech bubbles, keep the visual stimulation high, but they cannot keep the story, with its overdependence on subversive Goldilocks-fairy-tale digs, from wearing thin. And when, in a metamoment, Baby Bear enlists the help of readers, entreating them, “Can you shake the book? Go ahead, shake it! Then turn the page!” it is less of an eye-opener in this popular subgenre and more of a “been there; done that.”

It’s capably enough executed, but there are no surprises here. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6307-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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


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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