Looks like the first-day-of-school genre just got a high-octane upgrade.

TWO TOUGH TRUCKS

They are both trucks, but diametrically opposing personalities make them a mechanized odd couple.

New-school jitters may render some trucks wobbly in the gears, but for others it’s an opportunity for fun. Outgoing Mack is a go-getter who loves to take risks while quiet Rig is eaten up with anxiety. When their bespectacled teacher, a semi named Miss Rhodes (what else?), pairs them up on a twisty track, the two have a hard time finding their groove. Mack is constantly leaving Rig in his dust, but when the time comes for some tricky backward driving, the speedster discovers that sometimes having a patient friend is worth more than getting ahead. Evoking a dry and dusty Western landscape rife with cactuses and roadrunners, Leung manipulates his digital art to make his vehicular characters as demonstrative as possible. The little Rig in particular has expressive eyebrows that knot into a perfect curlicue when worried and slope and dip with every disappointment. Refreshingly, the authors do not dodge the truth that sometimes you will finish last. But while tears may be shed, it is by no means the end of your race.

Looks like the first-day-of-school genre just got a high-octane upgrade. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-23654-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the...

ROBOT, GO BOT!

In this deceptively spare, very beginning reader, a girl assembles a robot and then treats it like a slave until it goes on strike.

Having put the robot together from a jumble of loose parts, the budding engineer issues an increasingly peremptory series of rhymed orders— “Throw, Bot. / Row, Bot”—that turn from playful activities like chasing bubbles in the yard to tasks like hoeing the garden, mowing the lawn and towing her around in a wagon. Jung crafts a robot with riveted edges, big googly eyes and a smile that turns down in stages to a scowl as the work is piled on. At last, the exhausted robot plops itself down, then in response to its tormentor’s angry “Don’t say no, Bot!” stomps off in a huff. In one to four spacious, sequential panels per spread, Jung develops both the plotline and the emotional conflict using smoothly modeled cartoon figures against monochromatic or minimally detailed backgrounds. The child’s commands, confined in small dialogue balloons, are rhymed until her repentant “Come on home, Bot” breaks the pattern but leads to a more equitable division of labor at the end.

A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the rest. (Easy reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87083-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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