Clever fun, swooshing with motion and energy, this latest in the series will keep readers racing their engines for more.

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RACE FROM A TO Z

From the Jon Scieszka's Trucktown series

Another in Scieszka’s Trucktown series, this one features a boisterous truck race from A to Z.

“C is for Construction, Curbs and Cones and Crashes! / D is for Dan Dump Truck, who Dumps his Dirt then Dashes!” While not all letters feature such density of alliteration, Scieszka manages to pack quite a lot in. He also takes advantage of the world he’s built to upend some conventions. In many alphabet books, the text observes, Q often stands for “quiet,” but “[i]n Trucktown Q means ‘quite’ ”—as in “QUITE LOUD!” The one letter that seems off track is X: “Look out—X! A Xylophone? No one knows just why scary Big Rig has one.” Since silliness is the name of Scieszka’s game here, that’s OK. Z is for Izzy the ice cream truck, who wins the race. The digital illustrations comically animate each truck with google-eyed faces, expressions and appropriate characteristics: Big Rig sports a scowl, two hornlike exhaust pipes and a fearsome grille (he can play the xylophone all day if he wants); Wrecking Crane Rosie has a pink wrecking ball and an amiable expression. They really rev up the action. The droves of truck fans will love identifying the individual trucks as they race and cheer at the ending.

Clever fun, swooshing with motion and energy, this latest in the series will keep readers racing their engines for more. (Alphabet picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4169-4136-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you

THE THANK YOU BOOK

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Piggie is “one lucky pig,” and she’s determined to make sure she thanks “everyone who is important to” her in this, the final Elephant & Piggie book.

Gerald is sure his friend will forget someone—“someone important”—but Piggie assures him, “It will be a THANK-O-RAMA!” Piggie proceeds to thank the Squirrels for their great ideas, Snake for playing ball, and the Pigeon “for never giving up.” Piggie thanks and thanks: “I am a thanking machine!” She thanks character after character, even the Flies (“Any time, dude!”), as Gerald continues to interject that she’ll forget “someone VERY important.” Finally Piggie runs out of thanks, and by this time Gerald is steamed. “I goofed,” Piggie says in itty-bitty type, before lavishing thanks on Gerald. But that’s not whom Piggie forgot to thank! A classic Willems tantrum later, Gerald reveals the “someone important”: “Our reader.” Of course. “We could not be ‘us’ without you,” says Gerald, earnestly looking out from the page, and Piggie chimes in, “You are the best!” As Elephant & Piggie books go, this isn’t one of the strongest, but it is a validating valediction to fans of the two characters, who have won Willems two Geisel Medals and five Honors. Yes, Gerald and Piggie have ushered countless readers into literacy, but as they rightly note, reading is a collaborative act.

Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you . (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7828-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

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