Simple and delightful. A preschool crowd pleaser.

Readers help search for Mister Kitty.

A distressed youngster, with brown pigtails and light skin, is looking for Mister Kitty. “He is hiding somewhere inside this book,” the tot explains. “Will you turn the pages and help me look?” A black-and-white dog is also there to help search. “Mister Kitty has 5 yellow spots.” On the opposing page, the dog barks excitedly at five cutout circles. “Do you see five yellow spots?” But a dramatic page turn reveals those spots are not Mister Kitty; they are five yellow snakes! Oh no! Mister Kitty also has orange paws. The dog barks at four orange paw-print cutouts—surely Mister Kitty has been found now. But no, those belong to four orange monkeys! The silly countdown continues, with different colors and different shapes, until there is one triangular pink nose left. Does it, finally, belong to Mister Kitty? The dog is the comedic foil of the work, eagerly finding the shapes but growing more scared at each reveal. The final pink nose spread shows the dog despondent and almost too afraid to look. A quirky twist at the end is the biggest surprise of all. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Simple and delightful. A preschool crowd pleaser. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-316-05654-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022


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


Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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