No one does whimsy like Burningham; no one.

MOTOR MILES

Miles, a dog, learns to drive his own car, and everything changes.

From Burningham’s first droll lines paired with his expressively simple illustration, readers will know they are in for a rare treat—a book whose strong substance and story eschew gimmick and gloss and whose mastery of visual and narrative understatement shines throughout. Miles, the dog protagonist, is a difficult dog to live with, only enjoying trips “in the car up the hill to the café.” Miles’ owner, Alice Trudge, cannot be spending her days driving Miles to the café, so her neighbor, Mr. Huddy, offers to build Miles his own car. In a hilarious sequence of vignettes, Miles learns to drive, and after he has mastered it, Miles and Norman, Alice Trudge’s son, begin to take secret trips—to the ocean in early morning, through leaves in autumn, out in the countryside. It is hard to overstate the sheer aliveness with which Burningham, in a few artful pen, pastel, and watercolor strokes, manages to imbue his characters; Miles and Norman fairly brim with whimsical life. Miles becomes a happier, less difficult dog even after he gives up driving when Norman outgrows the small, dog-sized car—but Mr. Huddy may have another surprise in store for the two. The named human characters are all white, but they inhabit a multiracial world.

No one does whimsy like Burningham; no one. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9064-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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