This stowaway is here to stay as a new Christmas classic.

STOWAWAY IN A SLEIGH

A larger-than-life cat’s face with glowing, green eyes peeks out of a red sack on the cover of this story about a stowaway in Santa’s sleigh, with those compelling eyes silently begging the reader to open the cover.

The appealing feline star of the story is a calico cat named Slipper. She hears footsteps in “the darkest hour of the night,” and in a stunning double-page spread, a nearly life-sized Slipper stalks the dark house ready to pounce. She finds that the source of the noise is Mr. Furry Boots, a familiar figure in a red suit and black boots trimmed with fluffy, white fur. Slipper slyly slips into Santa’s sack and is inadvertently taken back to his house at the North Pole. In a clever play on words, Santa’s wife, Ms. Furry Boots, shakes out the almost-empty toy sack: “And she let the cat out of the bag!” (Mr. and Ms. Furry Boots are both white.) Slipper is soon homesick and sets off into the dark to try to find her way home. In a touching rescue, Santa finds the sad cat sitting in the sleigh and kindly flies her in first-class fashion back to her own house on Christmas night. Exceptionally striking illustrations use unusual perspectives and dramatic pacing, with the dark, nighttime settings skillfully creating suspense and mood. A subtle focus on feet includes the cat’s name, Santa’s boots, several pairs of elf feet in pointed shoes bedecked with bells, and a pair of furry red slippers that make Slipper the cat long for home. The succinct, perfectly paced text makes every carefully chosen word count.

This stowaway is here to stay as a new Christmas classic. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-48174-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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