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

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 charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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