BUNNY IN THE MIDDLE

Birth order matters—or does it?

Ostensibly written to reassure middle children, this sweet picture book acknowledges the special place each sibling occupies in a family. Middle kids are lucky to have someone bigger to help them—and someone smaller who needs them. They know how to assert themselves when their opinions are important; how to relent when a battle isn’t worth it; and how to negotiate conflicts to make all siblings equally happy. Sometimes middles lead; sometimes they follow; and sometimes they forge their own paths. When you’re in the middle, “you’re not too small for the big stuff” (going to school) “and not too big for the small stuff” (playing with a dollhouse). Life’s not always rosy, though; think hand-me-downs and shared bedrooms. But here’s the thing: “The best part of middle is… / you are loved all around.” What’s better than that? The child-appealing, expressive illustrations, rendered in pencil and computer enhanced, are delightful, depicting three plump, brown, floppy-eared, large-eyed bunnies cozily engaged in familiar activities (baking, playing, hiking, reading, snuggling). Kids will savor adorable details, such as children’s artwork on a bedroom wall and winsome animal students lined up for school in a tree. The second-person address avoids explicitly gendering the characters, and their activities are nicely varied. When portrayed on scooters, the bunnies wear helmets.

Charming and comforting. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-12036-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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