A sure hit that encourages independence—but not without a bit of gentle teasing.

LITTLE BEAR'S BIG HOUSE

When disgruntled Little Bear leaves his family to seek adventure outside their forest home, he finds a deserted house—and just enough adventure for one day.

The cover art makes good use of the large, vertical layout, with the comical, long-snouted Little Bear in the foreground and a red, multistoried house in the background. That art immediately poses questions that will be answered in time. For one, why is Little Bear struggling through pine trees with a ruffled, polka-dot piece of cloth tied around his neck and a standing lamp in his paws? From the beginning, text and art create giggles, because Little Bear has so many recognizable human qualities: both resentment and affection toward family members; refusal to play with peers when on an independent mission; imaginative fears; false bravado after returning to the safety of home. Young readers will appreciate the irony evident in several places, as when Little Bear insists that little boys, unlike bear cubs, are unencumbered adventurers. The surprising climax and the coda also provide irony. The text, translated (without credit) from the French, is shot through with wry, funny turns: “Little Bear takes courage into his own paws.” From the scarlet, plant-festooned endpapers to Little Bear’s hilarious antics with house amenities and from Little Bear’s imagined, Sendak-ian monsters to the details of forest animals fleeing through trees, the art perfectly complements the lighthearted text.

A sure hit that encourages independence—but not without a bit of gentle teasing. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7371-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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