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NOW THAT NIGHT IS NEAR

A beautifully illustrated cat’s-eye view of a quiet bedtime on a farm.

A Swedish Goodnight Moon.

As shadows lengthen and day concludes, a dark-skinned child falls asleep while the narrator takes readers from the bedroom to the yard of this rural farmhouse, then to the woods, to a nearby lake, and finally to a nocturnal, moonlit sky view of the whole area. The rhythmic text features a rhyming refrain: “Everyone is going to sleep, now that night is near. / Even cats are going to sleep, as bedtime’s nearly here.” Most of that rings true, but the part about the cats will keep readers guessing since the black cat that first appears on the title page and then perched in the child’s windowsill roams all the places the narrator mentions—not sleeping at all. Along the cat’s path, readers see cows, horses, pigs, and sheep, then wild animals including a fox family, two moose, a snake, and sleeping badgers. Notably, many of the outdoor animals have stuffed-toy duplicates in the child’s bedroom, a hint that the cat’s journey could be real or imagined. Young readers who enjoy the soporific spell of Goodnight Moon will appreciate this invitation to sleep, translated from the Swedish. Törnqvist’s hazy, mostly earth-toned illustrations appropriately reflect the muted colors of dusk, and her detailed attention to the flora and fauna of the area will give readers plenty to find, name, count, and discuss. The biracial family (the mom has brown skin, and the dad presents White) makes this an inclusive story that counters prevailing stereotypes of rural farm families.

A beautifully illustrated cat’s-eye view of a quiet bedtime on a farm.   (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-78250-675-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller

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 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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