This book beautifully changes the narrative of gender and gender roles, but fair warning—the hug scene might bring a tear or...

INTRODUCING TEDDY

A GENTLE STORY ABOUT GENDER AND FRIENDSHIP

Errol and his teddy, Thomas, play together all the time, so when Thomas is sad one day, Errol wants to know if he can help.

Thomas nervously tells Errol that she’s actually a girl teddy, and she wishes her name was Tilly. Errol hugs her, assuring her, “What matters is that you are my friend.” With Tilly feeling better, Errol calls their friend Ava to come play. On arriving, she greets Tilly by her old name, but Errol introduces Tilly. Ava tells her what a great name that is and invites her to go play. Tilly has one adjustment to make—she refashions her bow tie into a hair bow—and Ava, encouraging her to wear what she likes, takes her own hair bow off to let her long red hair go free. Life goes on as normal for Errol and Tilly, and as before, they ride Errol’s bike, plant vegetables in the garden, eat lunch in the treehouse, and have tea parties when it rains. Walton gently explains Tilly’s gender, which is a small ripple in the lives of children at play, and subtly pokes at gender roles with Errol’s tea parties and Ava’s robot building. MacPherson’s illustrations are sweet, with a sketchy, contemporary style. He draws Errol and Ava skinny, with white skin and pink noses. Tilly is plump with tiny ears.

This book beautifully changes the narrative of gender and gender roles, but fair warning—the hug scene might bring a tear or two. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-210-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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