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From the Narwhal and Jelly series

A delightful celebration of friendship and fancy.

Narwhal and his jellyfish sidekick, Jelly, see just how much joy a simple thing can bring if they use a little imagination.

When Jelly remarks on Narwhal’s new “blankie,” Narwhal points out that it’s not just a blanket—it can do so much more. In fact, Narwhal’s blankie is amazingly versatile. It’s a blanket! It’s a hankie! And, of course, after sneezing into it, one can fashion it into a hat and wear it on one’s head. Mounted on a stick, it makes a dandy flag; gathered in a knot, it doubles as a bag. Blankie is a great place to host a picnic; it can also be worn as a cape or a dress. But Blankie’s best feature, Narwhal points out, is that it’s big enough for two—a cozy, warm place to snuggle with a friend. The two friends swim and play against an all-white background that accentuates their delightful expressions and chemistry. A few well-placed motion lines and Blankie’s various permutations provide the rest of the story in Clanton’s successful adaptation of his Narwhal and Jelly books for school-age readers. The characters’ loosely rhymed dialogue unfolds in fast-paced, breezy jokes, and a good-natured sense of play permeates the proceedings. The contemporaneously published volume Bubbles is similarly charming and manages one of the few fart jokes (kids love ’em) that one might arguably describe as clever.

A delightful celebration of friendship and fancy. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6678-0

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A joyful celebration.

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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From the Little Blue Truck series

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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