No narrative but many questions.

Those unlikely pals, the sasquatch and the lumberjack, return in this exploration of the meaning and nature of family.

Sheridan’s sequel to The Sasquatch and the Lumberjack (2018) is sparse in text and rich in visual detail, like its predecessor. Unfortunately, though the artwork is as delightful as ever, this book lacks the clarity of the first; here, the message is ambiguous and the cast confusing. Even the title confuses. Is this the story of the sasquatch and the family of the lumberjack or a meditation on family presented by the sasquatch and the lumberjack? The spine suggests the latter; the typeface for “Family” is twice the size of the rest of the title. The front cover seems to say “...the Lumberjack Family.” Maybe a colon is in order? Ten successive double-page spreads with a single word of text apiece present a series of terms: “friends” (our titular pals), “Ma,” “Pa,” “Grammie,” “Gramps,” “Sister,” “Brother,” “Aunt,” “Uncle,” and, finally, simply, “family.” The spare text invites kids to create their own narrative, but the concepts in the first book (“autumn,” “slide,” and “forage,” for example) were more easily depicted and inferred than the familial connections portrayed here. The lumberpersons are racially mixed (white, black, Asian) but the relationships aren’t clear, and there are sasquatch siblings and baby bigfoots, too. Is this two families? One family? What is a family? Readers open to pursuing the possibilities will have much to think about.

No narrative but many questions. (Board book. 2-6)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63217-270-9

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020


Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014


Sentimental but effective.

A book aimed at easing separation anxiety and reinforcing bonds.

Twins Liza and Jeremy awaken during a thunderstorm and go to their mother for comfort. She reassures them that they’re safe and says, “You know we’re always together, no matter what,” when they object to returning to bed. She then explains that when she was a child her mother told her about the titular “Invisible String,” encouraging them to envision it as a link between them no matter what. “People who love each other are always connected by a very special String made of love,” she tells them, reinforcing this idea as they proceed to imagine various scenarios, fantastic and otherwise, that might cause them to be separated in body. She also affirms that this string can “reach all the way to Uncle Brian in heaven” and that it doesn’t go away if she’s angry with them or when they have conflicts. As they go to bed, reassured, the children, who present white, imagine their friends and diverse people around the world connected with invisible strings, promoting a vision of global unity and empathy. While the writing often feels labored and needlessly repetitive, Lew-Vriethoff’s playful cartoon art enhances and lightens the message-driven text, which was originally published in 2000 with illustrations by Geoff Stevenson.

Sentimental but effective. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-48623-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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