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KAI TO THE RESCUE!

An oft-told tale in fire-truck form. It’s earnest, but it fizzles.

When a tiny green-and-white pumper joins the fire crew, the captain truck doubts his abilities.

Firehouse No. 10 seems as though it has all the fire trucks it needs. Capt. Chuck is a large hook and ladder, Emily (stereotypically depicted as the sole truck with eyelashes) is the equipment truck, and Rudy carries the chemical foam. But there is word that a new truck is coming. “Oh, no, no, no!” moans Capt. Chuck. “This will not do! I’m very happy with my crew, crew, crew!” Poor little Kai, a tiny pumper, is doomed before he starts. Plus, the others are a gleaming red, and he is green and white. How will he ever fit in? On his first night in the station, he grabs some red crayons and scribbles himself a new coat. The two other trucks admire his ingenuity, but the captain shouts, “underneath that crayon you’re still white and green. I don’t think you’re right for our team, team, team.” Despite the harsh words, Kai perseveres and proves his worth when, during a fire, he fits into a tight spot that none of the other trucks can reach. Yamada’s animation background shines through in the cartoon trucks reminiscent of Disney’s Cars. Capt. Chuck’s rhymed, thrice-repeated words continue (bafflingly, he’s the only one who speaks this way), but the rhythm becomes increasingly jarring as he gets nicer (perhaps compliments are difficult).

An oft-told tale in fire-truck form. It’s earnest, but it fizzles. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-81636-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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DIGGERSAURS

Count on construction die-hards falling in love, but discerning readers would be wise to look elsewhere for their...

Less ambitious than Chris Gall’s widely known Dinotrux (2009) and sequels, this British import systematically relegates each dinosaur/construction-equipment hybrid to its most logical job.

The title figures are introduced as bigger than both diggers and dinosaurs, and rhyming text and two construction-helmeted kids show just what these creatures are capable of. Each diggersaur has a specific job to do and a distinct sound effect. The dozersaurus moves rocks with a “SCRAAAAPE!!!” while the rollersaurus flattens lumps with a cheery “TOOT TOOT!!” Each diggersaur is numbered, with 12 in all, allowing this to be a counting book on the sly. As the diggersaurs (not all of which dig) perform jobs that regular construction equipment can do, albeit on a larger scale, there is no particular reason why any of them should have dinosaurlike looks other than just ’cause. Peppy computer art tries valiantly to attract attention away from the singularly unoriginal text. “Diggersaurs dig with bites so BIG, / each SCOOP creates a crater. // They’re TOUGH and STRONG / with necks so long— / they’re super EXCAVATORS!” Far more interesting are the two human characters, a white girl and a black boy, that flit about the pictures offering commentary and action. Much of the fun of the book can be found in trying to spot them on every two-page spread.

Count on construction die-hards falling in love, but discerning readers would be wise to look elsewhere for their dino/construction kicks. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-4779-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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