We think you can, we think you can, we think you can…skip this superfluous outing.

READ REVIEW

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE ENGINE

The line between book and brand blurs with this bedtime take on an old standby.

Watty Piper’s little blue engine, best known for her persistence, now finds herself wide awake in the roundhouse when bedtime comes. Venturing out to investigate a nighttime sound, she finds a lost baby bird and decides to return it to its mother. Immediately they engage the help of Rusty Engine and some of the toys from the original story. These now appear to live with the engines in the roundhouse (guess they never made it to the good little girls and boys after all?). But what’s this? The mama bird has been living in the roundhouse this whole time too! (So what was Little Bird doing outside? And how is it that he doesn’t recognize the roundhouse as his home?) Family is reunited. Art meant to evoke bygone days depicts characters and scenery alike in bright, bold colors. The dolls include a light-skinned one with blond hair and one brown-skinned doll with brown hair as well as a monkey that unfortunately reinforces the old silly-monkey stereotype. One cannot help but remark that, with the release of the 90th-anniversary edition of The Little Engine That Could, newly illustrated by Dan Santat (2020), this tepid, illogical title, riding on the coattails of a classic, seems totally unnecessary.

We think you can, we think you can, we think you can…skip this superfluous outing. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09457-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

Our Verdict

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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