A barnyard parable sure to lighten bad mooods.

MOOTILDA'S BAD MOOD

This bovine’s having a bad day!

Little Mootilda wakes up with straw in her hair. When her moomaw gives her a frozen treat to cheer her up, it falls on the ground after one lick. “Her moomaw said, ‘That’s terri-bull, / but don’t stay in and mope.’ / She smoothed her cowlick, smooched her cheek, / and said, ‘Go jump some rope!’ ” Mootilda jumps rope with some other calves. That seems to help until she trips and kicks a bucket of milk, sending it flying and tangling everyone in the rope. One of the calves suggests a swim with sheep, but a big, splashy belly-flop leaves Mootilda in her bad mood. Cycling with pigs and playing basketball with horses end just as disastrously. Four chickens tell her about their bad day: A flying bucket destroyed their painting; a big splash drowned their sand castle….They “cow-miserate” and get some ice cream. She doesn’t realize it, but the conversation has helped. Now when another mischance befalls her ice cream, she laughs—her bad mood has gone. After a few more cow puns, she pulls up a couple bales and opens a “cow-nseling” service. Little ones might need a bit of help understanding Mootilda’s revelation, but Ranucci’s bright illustrations of wide-eyed farm critters are engaging and lively, and the details demand repeated readings. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 79% of actual size.)

A barnyard parable sure to lighten bad mooods. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1086-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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An A+ for Little E and his creator.

LITTLE EXCAVATOR

A petite excavator named Little E finds his place among a crew of full-sized, heavy-construction equipment working together to build a park.

The anthropomorphic Little E, with bright, friendly eyes and a cheery smile, invites readers into the story on the large-format cover. He is followed by a brown-and-white–spotted dog, which appears throughout the story as a friend to Little E. The construction vehicles arrive at an abandoned lot and begin working together to transform the property into a park. The rollicking, rhyming text names each type of rig and its function, including lots of sound effects and action verbs set in display type integrated into the illustrations: “Pusha-pusha smusha-smusha SMASH SMASH SMASH!” Little E tries to help with each step, but he is either too small or not strong enough for the task at hand. The last step of the park-construction project is the planting of a tree on an island reached by a bridge, but all the big rigs are too large to safely cross the wooden bridge. In a pitch-perfect conclusion, Little E is just the right size for the job. Dewdney, the late author/illustrator of the Llama Llama series, has constructed a solid winner for one of her final books, with an appealing main character, vibrant illustrations with varying perspectives, and an action-packed, rhyming text with sound effects just begging to be read aloud with dramatic effect.

An A+ for Little E and his creator. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-99920-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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