With the feel of a fine and handsome tintype, this Austrian import makes night newly beguiling.

READ REVIEW

AT NIGHT

For all but a few, the night is a foreign country.

Dreams are when the world turns upside down and inside out, and Bansch does a superb job illustrating its kooky-spooky state. Here, a dozen creatures settle in for the night: the elephant in the tall grass, the bird in its nest, the cat by the stove, the bat, wrapped in a red blanket, in its cave. The artwork is a sophisticated use of collage—for instance, beautiful examples of 19th-century European cartography become tree trunks—with color deployed for special effect and spidery linework adding a creepy-crawly quality. Dark shades are complemented by snappy red tulips in the elephant’s shadowy grass, and the polar bear’s cave is a luminous, delicate light blue. While the text is minimal, it is also evocative: “The dog slumbers in his cozy doghouse, / and the polar bear snores loudly in his ice cave.” Midbook, when the moon is full on one page and in full eclipse on the next, the book must be turned around and started from the other end. Then the youngest listeners will get the topsy-turvies of dreamtime: “But sometimes at night the elephant dreams in the bird’s nest, / the cat purrs in a burrow on a cushion of hay, / and the bird lies in the tall grass.” All’s fair in the Land of Nod, and inviting, too.

With the feel of a fine and handsome tintype, this Austrian import makes night newly beguiling. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5471-1

Page Count: 41

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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