Really well turned, with balance, momentum, and all the right notes.

GRUMPY PANTS

The grumps are particularly vexing when you are a little penguin and you don’t even know where they came from.

In this accomplished debut picture book, Messer introduces readers to Penguin, who is standing in the rain in his sou’wester. But the rain is not the cause of his “very bad mood.” The problem? “He didn’t know why and he didn’t care. He stomped his feet all the way home.” He removes grumpy boots and coat. Still grumpy. He removes grumpy socks and overalls. “Nope. Still grumpy.” Off come the grumpy underpants. “I’m still grumpy, you know.” So he takes a deep breath and plunges into the tub. He plays with his duck and makes a bubble beard. He slips into his favorite PJs, downs a cup of hot chocolate, grabs a favorite book and a favorite teddy, and climbs into bed. Messer has arrived at a fine combination here: few words and images, but not too few, and well-chosen to pave the way out of the grumps. The artwork possesses substance and delicacy, using linoleum prints in a simple red, yellow, and blue palette displayed for maximum contrast against spacious white backgrounds. Unexpectedly—for kids that is—sleep looks good, and there is that comforting, invisible presence off the page, drawing the bath, making the hot chocolate, and washing the grumps out of those clothes.

Really well turned, with balance, momentum, and all the right notes. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3075-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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

THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

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

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

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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