Concise, pedal-powered prose for the earliest of independent readers.

I LIKE MY BIKE

From the I Like To Read series

Slow and steady wins the traffic jam—especially when riding in the bike lane.

With a pup, a ball, and a wrapped present in their basket, a bespectacled human cyclist with long black hair exclaims “I like my bike.” The cyclist pedals on, and subsequent page turns introduce readers to humans or animals (and one cactus) who drive (and claim to like) their car, van, bus, or truck. The repetition of “I like my” followed by a noun creates a predictable pattern. Despite the individual preferences for particular modes of transportation, though, none are as joyful as the human cyclist. While the other commuters are stuck in a traffic jam in the background, the cyclist swiftly makes it to their destination. With an impressive economy of language, the story contains only 36 words—eight of which are unique. A deeper story exists in Ferrari’s mixed-media art. Executed with textures characteristic of paint, ink, and pencil, the style changes from page to page. On one page, readers will see a black-outlined cityscape against a broad swath of color; on the next, the environment might appear abstract or collaged. The medium trim size allows for group sharing, making this as much read-aloud as early reader. Readers can spot the cyclist in every double-page spread. Unfortunately, the only human character of color in the book is cast as a bus driver.

Concise, pedal-powered prose for the earliest of independent readers. (Picture book/early reader. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4097-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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A Christmas train book that gets derailed by a lacking story arc.

SANTA AND THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN

From the The Goodnight Train series

Not quite the Polar Express….

Sobel’s rhyming text fails to deliver a clear premise for the eponymous goodnight train’s Christmas Eve progress through the pages, and Huliska-Beith’s acrylic paintings embellished with fabric and paper collage don’t clarify the storytelling. At the start of the picture book, a bevy of anthropomorphic animals decorates a rather rickety-looking engine, and then human children gather around and pile into train cars that look like beds and cribs. The train follows a track, seemingly in pursuit of Santa’s sleigh, but to what end isn’t clear. They travel “through a town of gingerbread” and through the woods to find the sleigh blocking the tracks and the reindeer snoozing while, mystifyingly, Santa counts some sheep. Perching the sleigh on the train’s cowcatcher, they all proceed to the North Pole, where the “elves all cheer. / Santa’s here until next year!” But then the goodnight train just…leaves, “heading home on Christmas Eve.” Was this a dream? It definitely wasn’t a story with a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. Santa’s face is never seen; the human children and elves are diverse.

A Christmas train book that gets derailed by a lacking story arc. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-61840-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

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 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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