From the Mighty Truck series

Despite its emphasis on friendship, this muddied story with its awkward puns doesn’t become greater than the sum of its...

A superhero truck? Just what the world needs!

Many young kids love superheroes and trucks and getting dirty, so what could be better than a picture book that glorifies all three? Clarence, a rather ordinary-looking dirty pickup truck, and Bruno, a nattier-looking cement mixer, are best friends, but readers soon learn that with a quick wash job, Clarence turns into the bright red Mighty Truck. Mighty Truck is supposed to keep his identity secret, but when faced with a perilous emergency at Muddymania, held in Axleburg Arena, he has to make a quick decision. Can he use his superpowers (without revealing his secret identity) to prevent exhausted Flo, the watering truck who has created all the mud for the special event, from crashing haphazardly into the all-truck crowd? Like a four-wheeled Jimmy Olsen, Bruno forges ahead, and Clarence, aka Mighty Truck, must follow. The rescue is accomplished, but Bruno learns the secret. The bromance is sealed, but is there a whiff of old-fashioned anti-feminism in the air? Why is it Flo, the female truck, who must be rescued? Most kids won’t care, and the Adobe Photoshop digital illustrations are full of all kinds of moving vehicles with faces, resembling childhood favorites like Little Toot and Thomas the Tank Engine.

Despite its emphasis on friendship, this muddied story with its awkward puns doesn’t become greater than the sum of its parts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-234479-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016


Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice.

Is it a book about aspirations or the backstory for the board game?

Chickapig is defined as “an animal hybrid that is half-chicken and half-pig” and is depicted in yellow, two-legged chick shape with pink pig snout and ears. Young Joe Chickapig lives on a farm that was his grandfather’s dream, but it’s getting Joe down. He dreams of adventure but needs the “courage to follow his heart. / But how could he do it? How could he start?” In a bedtime story, Joe’s mother shares the influential characters that helped Joe’s sailor grandfather “follow his heart against the tide.” It seems that “Grandpa had heard a story told / Of a great big bear who broke the mold. / The bear was tired of striking fear”—so he became a forest doctor and a friend to all. And the bear’s inspiration? “A mouse who went to space.” The mouse, in turn, found hope in a “fierce young dragon” who joined a rock band. And coming full circle, the dragon found courage from a Chickapig warrior who “tired of shields and swords to wield” and established a farm. Chickapig game fans will appreciate this fanciful rhyming tale illustrated in attention-grabbing colors, but readers coming to it cold will note a distinct absence of plot. Mouse and dragon present female; all others are male.

Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7944-4452-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Printers Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019


Weary of museums, a young puppy escapes his family, slipping into a little red kayak to explore the canals of Venice on his own. As day wears on into night, Hallensleben (And If the Moon Could Talk, 1998, etc.) sends his errant little tourist gliding through impressionistically rendered Venetian scenes both recognizable and generic. Paddling hastily away from a disastrous encounter with a gondola, Gaspard ends up huddling in a church doorway (“I was a little bit scared”)—until a police boat with his relieved (not angry) parents aboard pulls up to carry him off to a meal of “the best spaghetti in the world.” Though perhaps not the most comforting pre-travel tale for parents, this companion to Lisa’s Airplane Trip (see below) should provoke family discussions about common-sense vacation behavior, as well as the desirability of keeping itineraries child-friendly. Hand-lettered, but easily legible text. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81115-X

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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