Dead certain to instill a newfound and deep-seated crane obsession in its young readers.

Cranes of every shape and size enjoy the limelight.

Dex is just a small mini, or spider, crane, best suited to interior work. Still, when a letter comes inviting his operator, Pete, to help with an “incredibly BIG project,” the two hop to it. To get there, they must journey over land and across the sea, passing myriad different cranes on the way. Passing a relatively human-scale loader crane and telescopic crane, the truck carrying Dex reaches the waterfront and is loaded onto a ship, allowing him to encounter jaw-droppingly massive shipbuilding, ship-to-shore, offshore, floating, and tower cranes. In the face of the sheer gargantuan size of their mechanics, Dex is baffled as to why he was selected for any kind of important job. Happily, his merit is made clear when he unloads and lifts the different parts of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton within a museum. While each crane Dex comes into contact with exhibits anthropomorphic features (eyes, faces, etc.), this does not detract from the awe they will inspire in construction-obsessed young readers. Deft watercolors bring the sheer scale of this storyline to life, with sweet-faced Dex the friendliest little red spider crane you ever did see. Alas, but one crane is gendered female, offsetting only slightly the otherwise male-heavy cast.

Dead certain to instill a newfound and deep-seated crane obsession in its young readers. (further information) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59572-843-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Starbright Books

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020


Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020


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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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