A good book to try when monster fears strike at night.

MONSTER TRUCKS

Just the book for the perceptive kids who ask where all the Halloween monsters go the rest of the year.

They drive monster trucks, of course, each one perfectly suited to the job and truck at hand. The witch trades in her broom for a street sweeper. The werewolf operates a digger, and the vampire hangs upside down from the cherry picker to fix high buildings. And the yeti? He’s a snowplow operator. “A speeding ambulance draws near. / A mummy’s working in the rear. / He’ll patch each monster bump and scrape / with lots of bandages and tape.” Other creatures include skeletons, a swamp monster (aside from the witch, the only other character identified as female), the Minotaur, and an ogre. The ending sees the sleepy monsters heading off to bed as the full moon rises in the sky. And Keller spells it out for anxious kids: the monsters won’t be found under beds or in closets: “They’re much too tired / to crawl and creep. // They’re snoring soundly, / fast asleep.” Saburi’s digital illustrations portray enthusiastic monsters enjoying their work, some maybe a little too much. While still toothy or large or gross, none are too scary for readers to handle, especially when posed against the vehicles so many kids are fascinated with.

A good book to try when monster fears strike at night. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-617-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force.

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LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET

A young boy yearns for what he doesn’t have, but his nana teaches him to find beauty in what he has and can give, as well as in the city where they live.

CJ doesn’t want to wait in the rain or take the bus or go places after church. But through Nana’s playful imagination and gentle leadership, he begins to see each moment as an opportunity: Trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. On the bus, Nana inspires an impromptu concert, and CJ’s lifted into a daydream of colors and light, moon and magic. Later, when walking past broken streetlamps on the way to the soup kitchen, CJ notices a rainbow and thinks of his nana’s special gift to see “beautiful where he never even thought to look.” Through de la Peña’s brilliant text, readers can hear, feel and taste the city: its grit and beauty, its quiet moments of connectedness. Robinson’s exceptional artwork works with it to ensure that readers will fully understand CJ’s journey toward appreciation of the vibrant, fascinating fabric of the city. Loosely defined patterns and gestures offer an immediate and raw quality to the Sasek-like illustrations. Painted in a warm palette, this diverse urban neighborhood is imbued with interest and possibility.

This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-25774-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book.

SCOOPER AND DUMPER

Friends don’t let friends expire in snowdrifts.

Convoluted storytelling and confusing art turn a cute premise into a mishmash of a book. Scooper’s a front loader that works in the town salt yard, replenishing the snowplows that arrive. Dumper’s her best friend, more than happy to plow and salt the roads himself. When the big city calls in Dumper to help with a snow squall, he brushes off Scooper’s concerns. Yet slippery roads and a seven-vehicle pileup launch poor Dumper onto his side in a snowbank. Can Scooper overcome fears that she’s too slow and save the day? Following a plot as succinct as this should be a breeze, but the rhyming text obfuscates more than it clarifies. Lines such as, “Dumper’s here— / let’s rock ’n’ roll! / Big city’s callin’ for / some small-town soul” can prove impenetrable. The art of the book matches this confusion, with light-blue Dumper often hard to pick out among other, similarly colored vehicles, particularly in the snowstorm. Speech bubbles, as when the city calls for Scooper’s and Dumper’s help, lead to a great deal of visual confusion. Scooper is also featured sporting long eyelashes and a bow, lest anyone mistake the dithering, frightened truck as anything but female. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.8% of actual size.)

Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9268-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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