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

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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 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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Engines won’t be the only thing roaring their approval when this book hits storytime.

ELBOW GREASE VS. MOTOZILLA

Who needs sanity when you’ve got family?

The title character of Elbow Grease (2018) and his family of Demolition Derby trucks return to face an all-new competitor. Once again, ’Bo is feeling inadequate next to his fan-favorite brothers. Despite Mel the Mechanic’s encouragement—he’s “the best at getting better”—he wants to be noticed. But instead, he notices someone unavoidable. Motozilla, the monster machine that turns trucks “into crunch sandwiches,” is currently undefeated. Trouble is, you’d need a truck with an array of skills to take him down. Thinking fast, ’Bo makes the wild and somewhat improbable suggestion that he and his brothers join together to form a single supertruck. Will it be enough to take down this bully? Quips, jests, and teamwork are the name of the game as pro wrestler Cena improves on his writing in this second outing, which demonstrates that individual glory falls in the face of concentrated cooperation. Rollicking, radical art portrays the battle in all its gritty glory, mud and twisted metal galore. Human crowds show a diverse range of races and genders, and the trucks’ keeper, Mel, has light-brown skin and wears glasses.

Engines won’t be the only thing roaring their approval when this book hits storytime. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7353-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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