A cautionary tale with a sneaky, entertaining protagonist.


An impatient girl gets stung by jellyfish in this picture book.

“One fine day in Jamaica,” a White girl named Antoinette and her parents visit the beach. Her parents say: “Don’t swim too far out, follow the rules and DO NOT GET INTO ANY TROUBLE.” But Antoinette disregards the advice and swims to a nearby platform where people are lining up to dive. She wants to perform the “biggest cannonball the beach had ever seen” and grows antsy waiting her turn. Antoinette slyly cuts in line and plunges into the ocean where she is “slapped and stung” by jellyfish. On the platform, the dark-skinned lifeguard points to a sign warning, “Danger: stinging jellyfish ahead,” and arranges for a boat to take him and Antoinette, now covered in welts, ashore. But Antoinette’s debacle hasn’t deterred her mischievous spirit. She approaches her parents covered in kelp, giving her a monsterlike appearance. Antoinette’s mother screams in fear of the “jellyfish monster.” Her father smells calamine lotion (ostensibly worn by Antoinette to soothe her welts). He laughs on realizing the creature is his daughter. Using engaging language and kid-friendly rhymes (“Plump and lumpy. Shiny and brilliant. JELLYFISH! They seemed to reach out…wanting to eat her like a nice roast beef dish”), McGregor’s lively story offers essential reminders. Antoinette’s plight underscores the importance of behaving appropriately and listening to others. Shira’s drawn illustrations are simple but effective, depicting diverse, cartoonlike characters and bright, beachy scenes.

A cautionary tale with a sneaky, entertaining protagonist.

Pub Date: March 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-52-558709-2

Page Count: 20

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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


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

Did you like this book?

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Did you like this book?