Reminiscent of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Fir-Tree,” this story of friendship will warm children’s hearts.

THE CHRISTMAS TREE WHO LOVED TRAINS

A solitary pine tree on the outskirts of a tree farm enjoys her place near the tracks, where she can hear trains roar past.

A little boy who loves trains as much as she does comes with his father to choose a Christmas tree. There’s an instant connection between the boy and the personified (but not visibly anthropomorphized) tree, and she’s the one he chooses to take home. Lest a child be horrified at the thought of the father cutting down the tree, the illustrations make clear that it’s carefully dug up and roots swaddled in burlap for the trip. The boy is happy, but the tree, now trapped in the corner of a room, is sad that she can no longer hear the trains. When the boy sets up his new toy train around the tree, she’s happy once again. Eventually, the boy and his father take her back to her favorite spot by the tracks and replant her. This beautifully designed and illustrated book conveys the emotional import of moments big and small through a visual rhythm that intersperses double-page spreads with smaller, more intimate scenes in soft ovals set against white space. The title page echoes the cover while framing the publication information within the tracks. Soft reds and greens enhance the Christmas theme, while onomatopoeic display type propels the action. The boy and his family present white.

Reminiscent of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Fir-Tree,” this story of friendship will warm children’s hearts. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-256168-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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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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