MITCHELL'S LICENSE

Mitchell, a rambunctious 3-year-old, never wants to go to bed—that is, until he gets his driver’s license. His father’s shoulders become the vehicle of choice, and clever conceits are quick to follow: He cleans the windshield (his dad's glasses), kicks the tires (his slippers) and away they go! With each night, the curly-haired tyke creatively cares for his car, and his driving improves. But when Mitchell insists the tank is empty and cookies are the fuel, the amiable car takes control, ensuring the road to sleep is safe and smooth. Durand’s text will appeal to the active and car obsessed, but Fucile’s masterful illustrations, full of expressive characters, great physical comedy and wonderful warmth, will engage readers young and old. His digital artwork has a loving, hand-drawn quality to it, and while he pays homage to artists from the golden age of animation, Tex Avery and Bob Clampett among them, his style defines and refines American cartooning in the best possible sense. However, an opportunity was missed in the title’s overall design, as the typeface and the additional graphics, as well as their placement, are not adequately married to Fucile’s fine artwork. Minimalist environments, a neutral color palette and the home’s décor epitomize the modern ’50s era, while the bond between father and son is timeless. An incredibly entertaining ride, despite the design speed bumps. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4496-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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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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Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book.

SCOOPER AND DUMPER

Friends don’t let friends expire in snowdrifts.

Convoluted storytelling and confusing art turn a cute premise into a mishmash of a book. Scooper’s a front loader that works in the town salt yard, replenishing the snowplows that arrive. Dumper’s her best friend, more than happy to plow and salt the roads himself. When the big city calls in Dumper to help with a snow squall, he brushes off Scooper’s concerns. Yet slippery roads and a seven-vehicle pileup launch poor Dumper onto his side in a snowbank. Can Scooper overcome fears that she’s too slow and save the day? Following a plot as succinct as this should be a breeze, but the rhyming text obfuscates more than it clarifies. Lines such as, “Dumper’s here— / let’s rock ’n’ roll! / Big city’s callin’ for / some small-town soul” can prove impenetrable. The art of the book matches this confusion, with light-blue Dumper often hard to pick out among other, similarly colored vehicles, particularly in the snowstorm. Speech bubbles, as when the city calls for Scooper’s and Dumper’s help, lead to a great deal of visual confusion. Scooper is also featured sporting long eyelashes and a bow, lest anyone mistake the dithering, frightened truck as anything but female. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.8% of actual size.)

Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9268-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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