From the Sometimes When series

An empowering, soothing aid for children combatting worry.

A child is guided by a loving family through ways to cope with worry in Serani’s picture book, part of the Sometimes When series.

The narrator, a child with wavy red hair and pink cheeks, notices that when they worry, sometimes they feel scared and can’t calm down. Daddy makes a suggestion: “He says I might feel calmer if I find something I can control.” Daddy offers a choice: belly breathing or counting to 10. The choice and the practice both make the child feel better. On each page, as the child expresses their worry, the family offers acceptance, choices, and encouragement, validating the narrator’s experiences and guiding them through it. The author, a psychologist and professor at Adelphi University, offers spare but fluid text that reflects a child’s perspective. The narrator’s family offers a supportive community at every turn, making the book reassuring for young readers. Lengthy text at the back guides caregivers on how to best support their worriers—and how to care for their own worries as part of that process. Teis’ highly-textured full-color paintings allow readers to sink into the scene; the pacing and presence of happy thoughts to contrast the worry make each page feel safe and comforting. The soft tone of both the text and illustrations gives the book the ambiance of a warm hug.

An empowering, soothing aid for children combatting worry.

Pub Date: June 27, 2023

ISBN: 9781631987373

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023


Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021


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