A GREYHOUND, A GROUNDHOG

This delightful story is a feast for the eyes and ears, and it will hold up well to repeated demands from eager young...

Friendship blossoms between canine and rodent in this paean to the sheer joy of being alive.

A greyhound and a groundhog are startled to meet, one waking from a nap and the other popping out of a burrow. Before long, however, they are frolicking together, romping about and running through meadows before finally collapsing in satisfied fatigue. Jenkins’ playful text (“A round hound, a grey dog, a round little hound dog. / A greyhog, a ground dog, a hog little hound dog”) has a catchy rhythm that begs to be read out loud. The text dances across the page, perfectly in sync with the watercolor pictures; on one page the line “and a sound” hovers beside the splash created by the greyhound’s foot, its curvature visually echoing the arc of the water. By varying perspective and distance, Appelhans creates dynamic, high-energy illustrations that maintain interest despite featuring only two characters against a plain, minimalist background. Readers look down on the two friends from above as they spin in giddy circles and see them in comical close-up as a butterfly flits past. Groundhog bursts from the end of a hollow log, paws outstretched, about to soar above the heads of readers, who have a ground-level view of the action.

This delightful story is a feast for the eyes and ears, and it will hold up well to repeated demands from eager young listeners. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-49805-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

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

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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