This story provides a charming, warm introduction to Paris for kids, ending on a happy note.

MONSIEUR PIERRE

In this debut illustrated children’s book for ages 3 to 5, a French octopus gets lonely and leaves his native fountain to explore Paris and beyond.

Monsieur Pierre Poulpe, a beret-wearing orange octopus with a dapper mustache, has been living in a Paris fountain, along with two fish, the Mademoiselles Poussins, ever since he was a baby. The fish sisters are snooty, though, and talk only to each other, so one day lonesome Pierre decides to follow a diverse group of tourists around Paris. Through coffee and croissants, a boat tour, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and Montmarte, Pierre looks around and tries to be friendly, but everyone ignores him. The Notre Dame gargoyles frighten him, and Pierre embarrasses himself with a faux pas. Even the Poussin sisters, who tag along, give him the cold shoulder. Feeling down, Pierre returns to his home fountain, but then two American children come by arguing about what to bring home for souvenirs. “Take me!” shouts Pierre, and they do, kindly holding “some of Pierre’s arms” (great phrase) on the plane so he won’t be scared. Pierre enjoys such California staples as a swimming pool, breakfast smoothie, yoga class, and Bay Area tourist spots, liking it all so much that he settles down in California—though he sometimes has “surprise visitors from Paris,” like a museum guard toting the Mona Lisa and the now-friendly Poussins. In her book, Dana delivers a delightful, colorfully illustrated tale. The human figures are drawn somewhat clumsily, but they’re expressive, and Pierre is full of Gallic charm. As children follow Pierre on his adventures, they can learn something about Paris and its sights; they can also enjoy looking for and finding the Mademoiselles Poussins on all the France-set pages. They can learn a little, too, about the San Francisco area. Children will likely sympathize with Pierre’s loneliness, embarrassment, and fears, which make his new happiness and friendships in California all the sweeter; even the scary gargoyles come to visit along with the formerly snobbish Poussins.

This story provides a charming, warm introduction to Paris for kids, ending on a happy note.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: L O Annie Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

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

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

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

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

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

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