Tender, reassuring, and lots of fun.


What is behind that alluring red door?

Two friends see the red door with the gold handle and have very different reactions to what might be behind it. Morton, a horned bunny with a lizardlike tail, tells of amazing possibilities and happy endings, presented in red text. Maybe there will be balloons and candy or spaceships, carnivals, and puppies, and wondrous magic. Bogart, a large, fuzzy, purple creature, counters each of Morton’s starry-eyed prognostications with dire predictions of danger and doom, especially to bunnies. Maybe there’s a scary wolf behind this door that eats bunnies. Maybe it collects pointy forks to eat all the bunnies, and it will take Morton’s imagined spaceships to find more bunnies in outer space. The terrors, presented in blue text, grow harsher and more frightening, but Morton is ever ready with more bright imaginings. Morton’s innate sweetness and joy reassure Bogart, and perhaps they will open the door together. Horn’s take on the friendship between the pessimist and the optimist speaks directly to young readers whose fears of the unknown can sometimes overwhelm their innocent imaginations. Burton’s very bright illustrations depict a mashup of the scary and the fun, with Morton’s happy thoughts always coming out ahead. Sharp-eyed readers will also notice another creature looking on, watching the developments. Children and their grown-ups can read together in two voices, perhaps switching characters for the repeat that is sure to come.

Tender, reassuring, and lots of fun. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-18949-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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


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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