Adequate but unexceptional.

THE THREE LITTLE PIGS

Yet another retelling of the classic fairy tale, updated for inclusivity and suitable for the board-book set, if somewhat lacking in whimsy and magic.

The familiar fable of the three little pigs is retold in simple language. This go-round, one of the piglets is a she, offering girls a chance to place themselves in the narrative. For the record, she’s the one who builds her house of sticks, so she’s slightly less lazy than pig No. 1 but less practical and ambitious than pig No. 3. The only visual suggestions of her gender are the frilled top of her overalls and eyelashes, a feature the other two lack even though they are both mammals as well. The storytelling is bare-bones; youngsters won’t be overwhelmed by the amount of detail, but exposition is quite skimpy even so. As the story opens, for example, the pigs bid their “mommy pig” and “daddy pig” farewell: “The time had come for the three little pigs to leave home.” The statement begs to be followed with, “... to make their homes and seek their fortunes,” but caregivers will have to fill that in on their own. Although geared to the audience, the lack of detail diminishes the fairy-tale quality of the story. Even a “Once upon a time” would help immeasurably. The artwork is well-executed but static, only really popping when the Big, Bad Wolf huffs and puffs. The simultaneously publishing Pinocchio is even more drastically stripped-down.

Adequate but unexceptional. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4654-7848-1

Page Count: 30

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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