A sometimes-overreaching but well-meaning story with a cute main character that will delight young Christian readers.

THE TINY TURTLE WITH THE YELLOW SPECKS

A unique little turtle learns about love and forgiveness in Isemer’s debut allegorical children’s tale.

Jerry is different from the other turtles, who tease him about the yellow specks on his shell, which, they say, might make a predator pick him first. Jerry spends most of his time swimming alone at the bottom of the lake, but thankfully, his sweet personality earns him some very nice friends. One of them, a young girl named Amanda, likes to visit the lake with her mom and always looks for Jerry when she visits. But one day, Amanda carelessly throws a carrot away and accidentally puts Jerry in danger from a troublemaking raccoon. Peet, a pelican, flies to the rescue, but not before Jerry is badly hurt by the raccoon’s claws. Jerry and Peet then embark on a journey to find the only one who can heal Jerry. Finally, Jerry meets Larry, a lion, and is overcome by his kindness and wisdom; the lion heals the turtle’s wounds and then reads an ancient text that changes Jerry’s life forever. It contains an explicitly Christian message, delivering the Gospel in a nutshell. Although this method of delivery stalls the story and feels a little forced, parents who wish to expose their children to Scripture will be pleased. Despite the obvious difficulty of balancing religious messages with a simple children’s story, the effect is satisfying due to the story’s and characters’ sweetness. Overall, though, the characters are appealing, aside from Amanda’s outburst when she throws away the carrot, and they acquire important values. Jerry, in particular, embraces the message of love in a heartwarming way. However, the explanation of the raccoon having “gotten off the good track” seems a little off-topic. The color illustrations are lighthearted and contribute to the positive tone.

A sometimes-overreaching but well-meaning story with a cute main character that will delight young Christian readers. 

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-3-00-053771-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2017

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Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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An unabashed love letter from mother.

I LOVE YOU, LITTLE POOKIE

From the Little Pookie series

A sweet celebration of the bond between a mother and her Pookie.

The eighth installment in this always charming series eschews the episodic drama and silliness of earlier outing such as Spooky Pookie (2015) in favor of a mom’s-eye-view celebration of her child and the time they spend together. There is, of course, nothing wrong with drama and silliness. But while the lack of conflict and plot in favor of unapologetic sentiment makes this book a quick read, that doesn’t make it any less endearing. The rhymed verse captures a mother’s wonder as she observes the many facets of her child’s personality: “Ah, Pookie. My little one. My funny one. My child. // Sometimes you are quiet. Sometimes you are wild.” On the simple joys of shared moments, she notes, “I love to go walking with you by my side. / I love when we sing when we go for a ride. // And I love just to watch as you think and you play. / The way that you are is a wonderful way.” Paired with author/illustrator Boynton’s irresistible renderings of a porcine mommy and her playful, snuggly little piglet, the result is impossible to fault. Whether quietly reading, running in a tiger suit, singing with mom in the car, ears flapping in the breeze, or enjoying the safety of mom’s embrace, Pookie’s appeal continues unabated.

An unabashed love letter from mother. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3723-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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