A cheery tale that highlights the importance of friendship, confidence, and working together.

TAKE YOUR OCTOPUS TO SCHOOL DAY

Learning how to do your best can be complicated—and fun!

Sam, bespectacled and earnest, loves all of the celebrations—Pajama Day, Silly Hat Day, Super Sports-Fan Day, Space Travel Day—his class observes at school. But even though his teacher points out that it’s not a competition, it always seems to Sam that someone else’s outfit or offering is better than his. Schoenbrun’s appealing, cartoonlike illustrations feature a multiracial group of students enjoying school while Vernick’s straightforward text delivers the story clearly with gentle humor. When Take Your Octopus to School Day rolls around and it’s time for Sam to unveil his pet octopus, Thurgood, in his tank, he waits for oohs and aahs from his fellow students—and is shocked to find that his tank appears empty! Where could Thurgood be? Is there anyone in class who can help? Perhaps there is someone else who knows something about undersea creatures as well? There is: a boy named Caleb who has a pet squid, as it happens. This quirky tale of pet ownership focuses on social-emotional skills such as resilience, healthy competition, and cooperation while remaining light and entertaining and introducing the concept of camouflage as well (Thurgood is hiding in there somewhere!). Clearly, there will have to be a Camouflage Day next. But how will they see who the winner is? Sam presents white and Caleb black.

A cheery tale that highlights the importance of friendship, confidence, and working together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-55710-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 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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