WHAT'S UP, MALOO?

From the Maloo and Friends series

Provides quiet assurance to those who recognize this feeling as well as a model for supporting a friend. (Picture book. 3-6)

In her authorial debut, Québecois illustrator Godbout explores depression through the movements of a kangaroo.

At first, the marsupial, clad in a short, yellow jumpsuit, is seen merrily jumping over a cluster of pink flowers. The mood quickly shifts, however, as a gray cloud settles over Maloo’s head. The ’roo’s posture compresses, and then Maloo descends into the dark burrow of a wombat. Even cake doesn’t help restore Maloo’s cheer. Hopping gives way to small steps that are counted aloud, offering a sense of the length of the mood: “Seven steps. Eight steps. Nine steps.” Five pages later, Maloo has reached 1,000. Friends try to help—playing in the water, turning on fans to propel Maloo into the sky. It is only when they launch their pal upward from a blanket that the fog lifts. Soft, warm scenes, rendered in pastels and colored pencil against a spacious white background, create a safe environment to discuss sadness. From the shift to a darker palette, the tree that closes in on creatures, and the serious faces, readers will understand that the protagonist is suffering; the spare text, written from the friends’ perspectives, describes the change in locomotion but allows viewers to identify the emotions. Although the friends are steadfast, three spreads depict Maloo striving in midair alone, suggesting that the individual has a role in healing.

Provides quiet assurance to those who recognize this feeling as well as a model for supporting a friend. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6664-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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