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From the Critter-Cam series

Unreliable on marine biology but effectively deploying a limited vocabulary.

For pre-readers familiar with screens and too young for Jaws.

A shark (“Swim, Shark. Swim”) sporting a webcam on its head grins at us. Right-hand pages show the webcam feed: the terrified faces of small, shell-less sea creatures exclaiming, “TEETH!” “LOTS OF TEETH!” After the sea life frantically departs (“BYE!”), a pink octopus comes into view. In real life, the octopus is prey, but here the two bow cordially to each other as the shark asks the octopus to dance. “Tango? Mambo? Cha-cha-cha?” wonders the octopus, and they proceed to “swing” and “sway” before the blissed-out octopus and shark part. Suddenly, the following page reveals a huge whale, and Shark is sucked into its maw along with smaller fry. The whale seems to have baleen plates, but everything in its mouth is swallowed down a gullet (with a uvula, which whales don’t have). It’s “very dark” inside the whale, but somehow, when the mouth opens again, shark and fry swim out. Now the “hungry!” shark spots the bottom of a small boat on the surface and jumps in, ejecting the tan-skinned person fishing. As the human swims away in the distance, Shark contentedly reclines, eating an apple abandoned in the quick exit: “Party on, Shark!” Small viewers might struggle with the illustrator’s whale-mouth sequence, but the use of simple, short words makes it a solid choice, and the bright graphics convincingly simulate a camera’s-eye view.

Unreliable on marine biology but effectively deploying a limited vocabulary. (Early reader. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 27, 2023

ISBN: 9781665927352

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon Spotlight

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

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

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. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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