Charming and endearing: “ChuggaMmmm-hmmm!” (Picture book. 3-6)

SMALL WALT

The smallest in a fleet of snowplows always gets picked last in a snowstorm, but he and his driver, Gus, show that teamwork and perseverance pay off.

Artwork reminiscent of Virginia Burton’s classics begins with a double-page spread of eight snowplows—eyes and eyebrows on their windshields—facing out in front of a tall fence. Lights gleam from town buildings with snowclad roofs, and large flakes of snow fill a darkening sky. The sixth plow from the left is the only one that is tiny and red, but the text simply mentions that the city plows are “ready to fight the snow.” At the turn of the page, readers learn what they have probably suspected: all the big, yellow plows are always picked first. At last, Walt is cheerfully chosen by Gus—light-skinned, like the other men. There follows a sweet sequence that shows Gus carefully checking the little plow’s readiness, and then off they go. The text is full of onomatopoeia, alliteration, and sudden rhymes as the pair salts roads and pushes through snow. “My name is Walt. / I plow and I salt” is a droll, easily remembered couplet that assumes additions and variations throughout. At the climax, the intrepid team ascends a steep hill—defying the intimidating plow Big Buck—and the expected end is magnified with a special treat from Gus to Walt.

Charming and endearing: “ChuggaMmmm-hmmm!” (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4845-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book.

SCOOPER AND DUMPER

Friends don’t let friends expire in snowdrifts.

Convoluted storytelling and confusing art turn a cute premise into a mishmash of a book. Scooper’s a front loader that works in the town salt yard, replenishing the snowplows that arrive. Dumper’s her best friend, more than happy to plow and salt the roads himself. When the big city calls in Dumper to help with a snow squall, he brushes off Scooper’s concerns. Yet slippery roads and a seven-vehicle pileup launch poor Dumper onto his side in a snowbank. Can Scooper overcome fears that she’s too slow and save the day? Following a plot as succinct as this should be a breeze, but the rhyming text obfuscates more than it clarifies. Lines such as, “Dumper’s here— / let’s rock ’n’ roll! / Big city’s callin’ for / some small-town soul” can prove impenetrable. The art of the book matches this confusion, with light-blue Dumper often hard to pick out among other, similarly colored vehicles, particularly in the snowstorm. Speech bubbles, as when the city calls for Scooper’s and Dumper’s help, lead to a great deal of visual confusion. Scooper is also featured sporting long eyelashes and a bow, lest anyone mistake the dithering, frightened truck as anything but female. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.8% of actual size.)

Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9268-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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