Still, the story’s lyricism and warmth, coupled with the colorful, cartoonlike illustrations, will leave readers with a...

HELLO, FALL!

How do you greet a season?

A young child in pigtails and an older man, presumably their father or grandfather, make autumnal observations and reflect on their adventure in this poetic selection. From spotting porcupines to watching squirrels, munching on apples to touching ticklish mums (the floral kind), and picking pumpkins to jumping in piles of leaves, this dazzling duo takes advantage of all that fall has to offer, greeting every element. In a whimsical touch, they may even hear the season laughing back. The main characters are white-skinned and rosy-cheeked, while some brown faces appear around the table at the end for a special feast. The narrative decision to use the past tense is an interesting if not entirely effective one, as a young audience is generally more focused on present than past. Moreover, the repeated use of the word “we” leaves some ambiguity about whether it’s the child or the adult describing and eliciting memories about the events, and the tale concludes on a rather saccharine note: “Together, we savored the tender treasures we’d found when we greeted fall: BEAUTY, BOUNTY, WONDER, // And LOVE.”

Still, the story’s lyricism and warmth, coupled with the colorful, cartoonlike illustrations, will leave readers with a smile and perhaps some interesting observations of their own about the magic of fall. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30754-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

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. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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