Stunning, tender, and brilliant. Readers will laugh and cry—but most of all love.


A dog savors one last outing with his little girl, remembering puppyhood and simple pleasures before passing, while their love lives on, enriching and inspiring new adventures as they unfold.

Floppy-eared and graying, an old dog rises to still find wonder in the world—from the fireball sun and puffer clouds to the swirly wind and a good old stretch—but it’s his forever friend, Little, who makes him “wigglewag” with joy. As the brown-skinned child with her black mop of hair calls out “Letsgoboy!” memories of leaping and chasing squirrels surface. The dog gazes upon this remarkable world and “wuffwuffs” his farewells, and Little gives him her tightest “lovesqueeze.” Under a luminous sky, he closes his eyes, and twilight blue bursts into a dazzling kaleidoscope, and he can “runjump” again. He sees the family mourn and the seasons change, until one spring Little is on a “letsgoboy” with a new puppy. Happy to feel her joy, he joins her in spirit, knowing they are each other’s friends forever. Mixed-media illustrations masterfully play with scale, composition, and perspective; and Chien’s use of simple, exploratory shapes and patterns creates enchanting characters and landscapes full of energy, peace, and transformation. Told from the dog’s perspective, the playful and poignant text offers an arc beautifully visualized by Chien, whose palette choices flex with the narrative. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Stunning, tender, and brilliant. Readers will laugh and cry—but most of all love. (Picture book. 3-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7716-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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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. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A joyful celebration.


Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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