A good message about self-acceptance, backed by charming images.

Train Station Park

TIPTON DISCOVERS OLD TOWN

In this illustrated book for young readers, an old train who feels useless is reminded that he can still make kids happy.

At Train Station Park, a children’s amusement venue, it’s Grand Opening Day. The star of the show is a brand-new shiny red engine: “Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, who’ll ride upon my back?” he asks the waiting crowd. All the boys and girls love riding this train, and he loves his job. Over time, though, his colors fade and he starts moving more slowly and unevenly. He eventually becomes known as Tipton “because of the way he tipped back and forth along the rails.” Children still love him, but the station master decides to add a new, sparkly engine named Jack. Tipton sulks (“Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, I’m no good; I just creak and I crack”) until he gets no more riders because “they thought Tipton didn’t want to see them.” Lonelier than ever, he decides to run away through a mysterious tunnel to Old Town, a work yard for broken appliances and old machinery. A silver tea cart named Carter helps him realize that his self-pity has prevented him from noticing how much the children still love him. Tipton gets repaired and goes back to Train Station Park, where the kids greet him with happy cheers. Diamond’s debut is lighthearted and charming, but also offers believable personalities and a serious message about loving oneself. It doesn’t exactly make sense, though, that the authorities at Train Station Park wouldn’t repair Tipton themselves; Old Town is also a little shaky conceptually, as it’s both a metaphorical heavenly afterlife for machines—‘the place where dreams come true’—and a way station for repairs. Overall, though, Diamond achieves a good balance between sympathy for Tipton’s old age and encouragement for him to do what he still can: delight children. Illustrator Brayer (Where Dolphins Dive, 2015, etc.) helps tell the story with lovely, well-detailed, and emotionally expressive illustrations that feature appealing washes of watercolor.

A good message about self-acceptance, backed by charming images. 

Pub Date: March 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4826-8082-9

Page Count: 46

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2016

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Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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