Infectiously enthusiastic about dance and imagination.

IT'S JUST A BUNNYPALOOZA

A girl learns to trust her bunny choreographers when planning a dance for a talent show in this third installment of a picture-book series.

Lizzy, a white, energetic, red-haired girl, can hardly wait to tell her animal friends about the Spring Jamboree, where she wants to perform. She’ll need help in choosing a talent, and makes several efforts based on animals (“chirp like a bird”; “grunt like a moose”), but they fizzle. Then Lizzy notices some bunnies “with feet in the air”; she knows they can teach her to dance exuberantly. Yet when Lizzy tells her school friends about it, they laugh at her, and she decides: “It’s time to be grown. / No more listening to critters. / I’ll go it alone!” But the bunnies insist on being seen, showing off dances and getting her attention. Lizzy cheerfully realizes that “I can dance to my rhythm and choose to be me!” The book, by the team of Faatz and Trimarco (It’s Just So...Little!, 2017, etc.), includes a useful glossary of dance terms, from “Ballet” to “Toe Tappin.’ ” Faatz generally employs rhyming couplets of sometimes uneven meter. A few lines vary, such as: “It’s just so… / …toe tappin’ / …jump jivin’ / …free stylin’ / …beboppin’ / …bunnybombastic!” The bouncy, vibrant verbs make this an excellent read-aloud tale. Trimarco’s full-color, whimsical illustrations nicely capture the story’s kinetic joy (and depict diverse students). Splashy typography and appropriate fonts add to the action.

Infectiously enthusiastic about dance and imagination.

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9970851-7-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Notable Kids Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2019

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

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

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. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A joyful celebration.

FAMILIES BELONG

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. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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