A tangle of arms and legs and many smiling faces pressed in close—this is a cultural ride worth taking.

OFF TO MARKET

A young boy comes up with a creative solution when an African minibus can’t make it up the hill.

The bus is off to the market, and Keb is the first inside. But there are many more stops, and soon, everyone is squeezing in, carrying fruit, vegetables, baskets and even a few goats! Dale’s jaunty text follows the rhythm of the bus over the bumps and turns: “Some climb on the roof, and more squash inside, / If only the bus had been made twice as wide!” Packed to the brim, the bus comes to a hill and can’t go any farther. Someone has to get off! The passengers start squabbling. Little Keb volunteers, but since he’s in the back, everyone else has to get off too. The bus makes it up the hill, and everyone gets to the market on time. The setting is never specifically mentioned, but the dusty landscape dotted with zebras and giraffes, along with Pal’s brightly saturated Pan-African–colored bus, gives a hint. It’s a lively trip and an equally lively text, but it’s too bad there’s no note on matatu minibuses beyond a reference in the author bio on the jacket flap. Adults may be charged with adding a bit more context.

A tangle of arms and legs and many smiling faces pressed in close—this is a cultural ride worth taking. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-84780-338-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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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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Slight and contrived.

LITTLE TACO TRUCK

A little orange food truck parks in the same place every day, bringing tacos to hungry construction workers—till one morning, a falafel truck takes his spot.

Miss Falafel then brings by more of her friends, crowding out the taco truck. Little Taco Truck whines and cries, but after four days of being shut out by the bigger trucks, he finally takes the initiative. He spends the night in his former parking space, defending his territory when the other trucks arrive. The rest immediately apologize, and after some creative maneuvering, everyone fits—even the newly arrived noodle truck. Valentine’s naïve call for cooperation glosses over the very real problem of urban gentrification represented by the flood of bigger and better-equipped trucks taking over the neighborhood. When the taco truck is the only game in town, the food line consists of hard-hatted construction workers. Then, as falafel, arepa, gelato, hot dog, and gumbo trucks set up shop, professionals and hipsters start showing up. (All the customers are depicted as animals.) The author also inadvertently equates tacos with a lack of sophistication. “ ‘Hola, Miss Fal…Fal…’ Little Taco Truck tried to sound out the words on the side of the other truck.” Sadly, the truck sells Americanized crisp-shelled tacos. Even the glossary ignores the culinary versatility and cultural authenticity of the soft taco with this oversimplified and inaccurate definition: “A crispy Mexican corn pancake folded or rolled around a filling of meat, beans, and cheese.”

Slight and contrived. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6585-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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