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

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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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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