Mr. Fish’s fans can chase away any holiday “dreary-wearies” with this latest entry in the series, though it’s more likely to...

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THE NOT VERY MERRY POUT-POUT FISH

From the Pout-Pout Fish series

The perennially popular pout-pout fish is back with a new problem: how to find perfect gifts for all his friends.

Mr. Fish wears a “yuletide pout” in this holiday season because of his extensive shopping expectations. He wants his gifts to have “bling-zing,” to be big, bright, and perfect, “guaranteed to bring delight.” He shops till he plops but leaves the mall empty-handed “in a bout of pout-doubt.” His wise friend Miss Shimmer saves the day, with lots of craft supplies and advice about how to make his own presents “with his very own fins!” Mr. Fish finds that his simple, handmade gifts do meet his high expectations and that the camaraderie and goodwill shared with friends are the really meaningful gifts of the season. In addition to the wordplay, the text offers a calming, sensible approach to holiday gift giving with reinforcement of the value of handmade gifts. Hanna’s detailed illustrations of Mr. Fish’s watery world are filled with funny details, as when the sea creatures all hold one another’s tentacles as they celebrate the holiday. A holiday highlight is the arrival of Manta Claus, pulled in his sleigh by sea horses, of course.

Mr. Fish’s fans can chase away any holiday “dreary-wearies” with this latest entry in the series, though it’s more likely to be adults who face the holiday shopping quandary than children. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-35549-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

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 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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For readers who haven’t a musk ox of their own to snuggle up with, this tale proves just as cozy.

COZY

An agreeable Alaskan musk ox embodies that old Ben Franklin adage, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”

When Cozy the ox is separated from his herd in the midst of a winter storm, he decides to wait it out. His massive size and warmth attract small animals—a lemming family and a snowshoe hare—desperate to escape the cold. However, as bigger, predatory creatures arrive, Cozy must lay down some “house rules” that grow with each new creature that arrives until they extend to: “Quiet voices, gentle thumping, claws to yourself, no biting, no pouncing, and be mindful of others!” Over time, the guests grow antsy, but at last spring arrives and Cozy can find his family. The tale is not dissimilar to another Jan Brett tale of cold weather and animals squeezing into a small space (The Mitten, 1989). Meticulous watercolors refrain from anthropomorphizing, rendering everyone, from massive Cozy to the tiniest of lemmings, in exquisite detail. This moving tale of gentle kindness serves as a clarion call for anyone searching for a book about creating your own community in times of trial. Brett even includes little details about real musk oxen in the text (such as their tendency to form protective circles to surround their vulnerable young), but readers hoping for further information in any backmatter will be disappointed. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 37.3% of actual size.)

For readers who haven’t a musk ox of their own to snuggle up with, this tale proves just as cozy. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10979-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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