Bright in mood, message, and hue, this is a winner.

RAD!

With moral support and practice, anything is possible!

Skate! says Esther. / Stoked? says Chester. / Totally! say Hester and Sylvester. / Never, says Lester.” At the Beachside Skate Park, four cats are excited to use their skateboards, but one gray kitty is not. It seems Lester thinks skateboarding is “scary.” The other kitties gently cajole Lester to give it a try and practice. They pop a helmet on their reluctant companion’s head and say, “Please”—but when Lester says, “no” again, they roll into the park and have a “RAD!” time while Lester peers over the wall at them. When Lester concedes, “Maybe,” the others enthusiastically respond with “awesome,” “gnarly,” and “cool!” Lester doesn’t succeed the first time, but the four skateboarding veterans encourage the wobbly cat, and they all celebrate when Lester finally prevails. Everyone has a great time. Then Lester sees some surfers and suggests they try that tomorrow—but: “No, no, no, no way! say Esther, Chester, Hester, and Sylvester.” Bustard’s story is told entirely in her characters’ one-word exclamations and dialogue tags, using type style rather than quotation marks to denote their speech. It’s easy to follow, as Wiseman’s cartoons supply an unmistakable visual narrative. Cartoon kitties of various colors in helmets and streetwear skate in a park decorated in bright graffiti. Young listeners will identify with Lester’s fears and will soon be able to read the story on their own; as Chester says: “Righteous!”

Bright in mood, message, and hue, this is a winner. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4101-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

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THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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