This well-intentioned story about pregnancy loss is far from perfect but fills a gap.

READ REVIEW

MAMA BIRD LOST AN EGG

A young swallow comforts his mother after the loss of her egg.

Used to his mother soothing him when he’s sad, Gabriel is heartbroken to discover Mommy Swallow crying. When she tells him how her nest collapsed and her egg was lost, Gabriel is sad he won’t be a big brother. To comfort his mother, Gabriel reminds her of the world’s beauty as the two swallows fly, dive, and survey the forest on a summer day. As Mommy Swallow embraces him, Gabriel glows with pride to see his mother’s “eyes smiling” once more. Originally published in Canada and translated from French, this quiet story is distinctive for specifically addressing pregnancy loss. The brief, gentle text, descriptive yet with room for discussion, pairs pleasantly with painterly, tranquil nature landscapes. Although the birds are charming, their strictly realistic rendering precludes visual character development through body and facial expressions. There is also an unfortunate emotional distance created by the loss of the egg outside the bird’s body, instead of inside, as with humans. Finally, making Gabriel the key to his mother’s happiness is a sweet idea, but it both places inappropriate responsibility on the child and disempowers Mommy Swallow; it may also alienate those caregivers reading aloud who have not experienced a successful pregnancy. In reality, although there are important external supports, for many adults experiencing pregnancy loss, resilience and strength must ultimately come from within.

This well-intentioned story about pregnancy loss is far from perfect but fills a gap. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-2-89802-082-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: CrackBoom! Books

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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