An oft-told tale in fire-truck form. It’s earnest, but it fizzles.

When a tiny green-and-white pumper joins the fire crew, the captain truck doubts his abilities.

Firehouse No. 10 seems as though it has all the fire trucks it needs. Capt. Chuck is a large hook and ladder, Emily (stereotypically depicted as the sole truck with eyelashes) is the equipment truck, and Rudy carries the chemical foam. But there is word that a new truck is coming. “Oh, no, no, no!” moans Capt. Chuck. “This will not do! I’m very happy with my crew, crew, crew!” Poor little Kai, a tiny pumper, is doomed before he starts. Plus, the others are a gleaming red, and he is green and white. How will he ever fit in? On his first night in the station, he grabs some red crayons and scribbles himself a new coat. The two other trucks admire his ingenuity, but the captain shouts, “underneath that crayon you’re still white and green. I don’t think you’re right for our team, team, team.” Despite the harsh words, Kai perseveres and proves his worth when, during a fire, he fits into a tight spot that none of the other trucks can reach. Yamada’s animation background shines through in the cartoon trucks reminiscent of Disney’s Cars. Capt. Chuck’s rhymed, thrice-repeated words continue (bafflingly, he’s the only one who speaks this way), but the rhythm becomes increasingly jarring as he gets nicer (perhaps compliments are difficult).

An oft-told tale in fire-truck form. It’s earnest, but it fizzles. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-81636-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016


Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020


A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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