SLOTH & SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE

Sure to tickle more than a few ribs.

An unlikely pair finds an enterprising approach to acquiring a vehicle.

Round-headed, flat-faced Sloth and small, wiry, gray Squirrel are friends. When Squirrel sees a tandem bike zip past their tree, he wants one immediately. He wants to “go FAST!” Sloth at first only opens an eye to see what’s up but goes along (“s-l-o-w-l-y”) to the bike shop with his friend. Squirrel and Sloth discover that bicycles are expensive, so they take on a job as pickle packers to earn enough to buy one. The pickle-packer manager, a magnificent blue-feathered peacock, is not impressed with their work. However, he pays them—mostly in pickles—and Sloth, the thinker to Squirrel’s doer, comes up with an idea that pays off. When Sloth’s tropical ice pop plops to the ground (because he eats very s-l-o-w-l-y), he invents a new treat. The success of their pickle-pop business means that Sloth and Squirrel can successfully address their need for speed in a way that doesn’t put Sloth to sleep. Mealey’s entertainingly silly, original plot includes plenty of dialogue and subtle wordplay, both visual and textual. Collier’s low-key palette and expressively droll cartoon characters keep each double-page spread lively. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sure to tickle more than a few ribs. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0238-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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