Four short stories, each illustrated by a different artist and each containing an unobtrusive but centrally important moral. In "Inviting Jason" Stanley, a typically conformist ten-year-old, fears that his birthday party will be ruined when his mother makes him invite the dud whose salient trait appears to be his well-known dyslexia. When Dick, the popular boy Stanley wants to impress, takes up with Jason largely because of the novelty of his spelling and drawing, Stanley is chagrined anew. In "The Night of the Leonids" Lewis and his grandmother go to Central Park for a star shower, only to find that a cloudy sky has spoiled the show. When he complains that he won't have another such chance for thirty-three years, Lewis is reminded of what that much time means to his sixty-three-year-old grandmother. Clara in "Camp Fat" is encouraged by a sympathetic "night counsellor," but discovers upon leaving that Miss Natasha has been dead for years. "Momma at the Pearly Gates" is told by a black girl about her mother's fourth-grade encounter with racial prejudice in the person of one Roseann Dolores Sansevino, whom Momma wins over after an amusing series of instills and challenges. Neither as lively nor as imaginative as Mrs. Konigsburg's full-length fiction, the stories share her offhand humor and her perceptive empathy with a child's point of view. The theme or lesson of each story emerges naturally from the characters and events and adds in its turn an ironic note to the plot's conclusion.

Pub Date: April 22, 1971

ISBN: 1416955011

Page Count: 37

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1971

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.


Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Wonderful, indeed

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A love song to baby with delightful illustrations to boot.

Sweet but not saccharine and singsong but not forced, Martin’s text is one that will invite rereadings as it affirms parental wishes for children while admirably keeping child readers at its heart. The lines that read “This is the first time / There’s ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do” capture the essence of the picture book and are accompanied by a diverse group of babies and toddlers clad in downright adorable outfits. Other spreads include older kids, too, and pictures expand on the open text to visually interpret the myriad possibilities and hopes for the depicted children. For example, a spread reading “Will you learn how to fly / To find the best view?” shows a bespectacled, school-aged girl on a swing soaring through an empty white background. This is just one spread in which Martin’s fearless embrace of the white of the page serves her well. Throughout the book, she maintains a keen balance of layout choices, and surprising details—zebras on the wallpaper behind a father cradling his child, a rock-’n’-roll band of mice paralleling the children’s own band called “The Missing Teeth”—add visual interest and gentle humor. An ideal title for the baby-shower gift bag and for any nursery bookshelf or lap-sit storytime.

Wonderful, indeed . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37671-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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