A visually impressive, mostly well-executed offering.

RIBBIT

The life cycle of a frog is shown with illustrations and minimal words in this picture book.

Continuing the format and style of her previous books (Hop, 2015, etc.)—one word per double-page spread and crisp, matte illustrations—Hurley’s new book illustrates the life cycle of a leopard frog. The book begins with an illustration of a cluster of frog’s eggs and the word “wait.” Next is “hatch,” as the illustration shows a tadpole emerging. Eating, avoiding being eaten, metamorphosing from a tadpole to a frog all follow in their proper order. A seasonal clue arrives with “hibernate,” and the illustration shows the frog nestled into the mud of a pond, which is covered in ice and snow. When Hurley reaches the mating part of the frog’s life cycle, however, she veers from her unambiguous delivery and uses the word “ribbit” to indicate breeding. While the author’s note at the end of the story tells readers that frogs do most of their croaking when looking for a mate, this side-stepping on “ribbit,” especially when juxtaposed against the book’s otherwise straightforwardness, strikes an off note. A vertical gatefold is successful, as it gives an appreciated twist to the one-word-per-double-spread format. The book’s overall design is impeccable in its spare way, but the author’s note is essential to fill in the blanks.

A visually impressive, mostly well-executed offering. (Informational picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3274-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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