This book’s likable French protagonist makes its environmentalist message go down easy.

THE BEE WHO SPOKE

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF BELLE AND THE BEE

“Once upon a time in the great city of Paris, near Rue Saint-Rustique in the 18th arrondissement, there lived a girl named Belle.”

After a few more facts about Paris are revealed, readers learn that the creative, friendly Belle visits her grandparents in the country every summer and that this summer, her special present is a bicycle. Belle pedals off into the countryside, where a minor cycling accident leads her to meet the title’s bee and then to learn a few scientific facts from it. The made-to-be-read-aloud storytelling rhythm of the first page continues throughout, with more text than is typical of contemporary picture books. In fact, the text, tone, illustrations and a song by woodland creatures are all reminiscent of Golden Books. However, one of its strongest messages is all 21st-century: Human beings need bee pollination for many of their favorite foods. Other more general aphorisms include the bee’s comment to Belle—in French and then English—“A place and a purpose for everything—that’s the beauty of nature.” Readers unfamiliar with French language and culture will feel the lack of a glossary or pronunciation key. The red-and-white-checkered endpapers, echoed in the pages illustrating the contents of Belle’s backpack, reinforce the originality of this fantasy-and-nonfiction book. A list of “delicious foods” needing bee pollination is appended.

This book’s likable French protagonist makes its environmentalist message go down easy. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-500-65027-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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

HEY, DUCK!

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. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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