A delightful celebration of friendship and fancy.


From the Narwhal and Jelly series

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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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.


Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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