This Swiss-German import—originally written in English—delivers little other than a troubling crying-isn’t-OK message.

FIVE LITTLE DUCKLINGS GO TO SCHOOL

As in their previous outing, Five Little Ducklings Go to Bed (2013), all it takes is for one sibling to lose their cool about starting school, and the rest follow.

Although four of these little yellow ducklings are excited about donning their black-and-white–striped neckties and heading off to school, the fifth one’s tears and declaration that they’ll miss their mother are enough to get the waterworks flowing in all five. But mama duck pauses only a moment before kissing them all, telling them not to cry, reassuring them that it’s OK to miss someone and that they’ll remain in “each other’s hearts,” all the while continuing the morning routine and leading the ducklings to join other animal children at school. The five, who haven’t looked sad for several pages, “wiped their eyes, / Waddled off to school with their heads held high,” subtly sending the message that crying isn’t OK and must be suppressed. They all have a great day; indeed, there’s nary a tear from any of the new students, rather unrealistic for the first day of school. Roth’s verses are a bit rough; both the rhyme and rhythm frequently off. Julian’s ducklings are differentiated by their various hats but are otherwise interchangeable, and though the school scenes are delightful, the relationships among the ducks, which should be the foundation of the tale, aren’t demonstrably affectionate save for an ending family hug.

This Swiss-German import—originally written in English—delivers little other than a troubling crying-isn’t-OK message. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4346-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

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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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