A sweet, funny exhortation to dream big.



An adoring otter longs to become an elephant.

Randal lounges on a large rock with his pal Clive, marveling at the majesty of the elephants. Clive is not so impressed, but he listens patiently. When Clive suggests that Randal become one, Randal decides to follow his dream. Randal tells the other otters of his plan and goes to live with the elephants. Randal sends Clive a series of letters, talking optimistically about his new life. The elephants, he reports, play a game with him in which they pretend not to notice him. “It’s hilarious!” Enclosed snapshots make clear the elephants’ total disregard for the eager otter. The other otters decide to visit him, addressing the elephant they feel has “a very Randal quality”; it just looks nonplussed. When they return home, they’re surprised to find Randal there, looking very much like an otter. He explains that being an elephant was “kinda cool, but not as great as he thought it would be.” The next day, Randal and Clive are lounging on their large rock, watching the giraffes. Randal wonders….Gavin’s simple story should be a reminder to children to dive in and explore life. Her lovely illustrations combine realistic depictions of animals with soft colorful backgrounds that suggest watercolors, using body language and posture rather than aggressive anthropomorphization to develop her characters visually. A two-page appendix offers interesting facts about elephants and otters.

A sweet, funny exhortation to dream big. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-943978-34-2

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Persnickety Press

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.


From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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