A good choice before nap time or bedtime or as a complement to units on migration.

ALL EYES ON ALEXANDRA

Readers learn some nature facts as they follow intrepid Alexandra Crane and her feathered companions on a migratory trip to Israel.

The art is captivating: representational, tempera-and–colored-pencil images that include a thin stripe of red ink to outline each graceful crane. Every illustration is a beautiful complement to the text, whether showing international city skylines, vivid natural wonders, a brightly painted cable car, or a threatening eagle. The simple plot’s protagonist is identifiable from the rest by what appears to be a thin, bright-red ribbon adorning her neck. The text begins with this bold-lettered sentence: “Alexandra Crane had her head in the clouds.” Several members of Alexandra’s immediate and extended family express concerns over the young female’s tendency to favor adventure over regimen. However, right after this discussion, Alexandra sniffs the air and reports that she smells snow. The Crane family cheers when the older Saba Crane agrees that this is the signal for the birds to begin their annual flight to Africa, via Israel. The text uses gentle humor as it describes the flock’s preparatory preening. During the trip, family members continue to express concerns over Alexandra’s adventurous nature, and her intelligence and curiosity continue to help the flock. The ending, although sweet, is a flat repetition of the oft-repeated theme. Nonetheless, graceful text and exquisite artwork combine to create an appealing book.

A good choice before nap time or bedtime or as a complement to units on migration. (author’s note about Israel’s Hula Valley) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5124-4439-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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