Truck enthusiasts will wheely groove on this story of a truck Superman.

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MIGHTY TRUCK

From the Mighty Truck series

An adventure-loving truck discovers an alter ego when his boss demands a trip through the car wash.

Clarence is an old-fashioned–looking pickup truck with wooden rails, but his most obvious characteristic is that he’s filthy. Even an imminent thunderstorm won’t clean him off, but a lightning strike may have something to do with his transformation—when he drives away, he is gleaming, feeling “really wheely powerful,” and unrecognizable to his co-workers. Indeed, the shiny red monster truck with “MT” emblazoned on the side and huge tires is a far cry from the dirty pickup of the beginning. But truck lovers won’t care, as underdog Clarence proceeds to rescue truck-friend Bruno from the mud, a cat from a tree, and a line of traffic from a beam teetering on a high-rise under construction, each daring superhero feat cementing his new identity as Mighty Truck. By the end, he’s dirty again, but he won’t share his secret—who wants to miss all the fun that comes with getting dirty when getting clean is “only a wash away”? Cummings’ Photoshop illustrations emphasize textures: dirt in all its forms—the dirt covering the trucks, the dirt in the tire treads, mud—the sheen of windows and chrome, the roughness of asphalt. Readers may remark on the unfairness of Clarence’s having to wash when Bruno is just as dirty, though.

Truck enthusiasts will wheely groove on this story of a truck Superman. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234478-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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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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Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out?

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THE PRINCESS IN BLACK

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 1

Perfect Princess Magnolia has a secret—her alter ego is the Princess in Black, a superhero figure who protects the kingdom!

When nosy Duchess Wigtower unexpectedly drops by Princess Magnolia’s castle, Magnolia must protect her secret identity from the duchess’s prying. But then Magnolia’s monster alarm, a glitter-stone ring, goes off. She must save the day, leaving the duchess unattended in her castle. After a costume change, the Princess in Black joins her steed, Blacky (public identity: Frimplepants the unicorn), to protect Duff the goat boy and his goats from a shaggy, blue, goat-eating monster. When the monster refuses to see reason, Magnolia fights him, using special moves like the “Sparkle Slam” and the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Smash.” The rounded, cartoony illustrations featuring chubby characters keep the fight sequence soft and comical. Watching the fight, Duff notices suspicious similarities between the Princess in Black and Magnolia—quickly dismissed as “a silly idea”—much like the duchess’s dismissal of some discovered black stockings as being simply dirty, as “princesses don’t wear black.” The gently ironic text will amuse readers (including adults reading the book aloud). The large print and illustrations expand the book to a longish-yet-manageable length, giving newly independent readers a sense of accomplishment. The ending hints at another hero, the Goat Avenger.

Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out? (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6510-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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