Offers young readers a cheerful introduction to autumn and models observation, optimism, and resilience in the face of...

AUTUMN IS HERE

From the Tractor Mac series

A routine-loving young calf reluctantly learns to embrace change in this Tractor Mac installment.

Anthropomorphic Tractor Mac and his animal friends at Stony Meadow Farm are observing the seasonal shift from summer to autumn when they realize that one of their number is struggling with the transition: Fergus the calf has never experienced autumn, and he “does not like change.” The animals and Tractor Mac demonstrate familiarity with the why and not just the what of farm operations—as participants in the cyclical patterns dictated by the changing seasons, they gladly articulate to Fergus how the changes benefit the farm. The endpapers feature clearly labeled diagrams of Tractor Mac as well as his new mounted corn picker, which will delight readers interested in vehicles and machinery. Steers’ realistic watercolor-and-ink illustrations establish Stony Meadow and its expressive animal occupants in the foreground in warm shades of yellow, orange, and red while the white farmer couple appears most frequently in the background. When other humans are pictured, as at the Pumpkin Picking Festival, they are overwhelmingly white with just a few exceptions. The book’s lack of ethnic diversity, coupled with historically ambiguous depictions of vehicles and attire, suggests the story is set in the American rural northeast sometime around the middle of the 20th century.

Offers young readers a cheerful introduction to autumn and models observation, optimism, and resilience in the face of unexpected change. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-30920-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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