An oft-told tale told poorly.

READ REVIEW

THE NEW KITTEN

The puffy gray cat introduced in Naughty Cherie (illustrated by Mark Graham, 2008) learns to share her space and her humans.

Cherie’s family leaves the house, promising to return with a surprise. She hopes it’s tuna treats…but it’s Cleopatra, a kitten. “Her legs were very short and her tail was thin—not at all like Cherie’s big, fluffy tail. She did not have soft, long, gray fur like Cherie but very short, smooth, shiny fur.” Cherie does not like anything about Cleopatra, but young human JoJo and her parents think the little cutie can do no wrong, even when she’s making a mess. Cherie runs away, but after being treated shabbily by several wild animals (most of whom she would eat or be eaten by in reality), she returns home to snuggle, purring, with Cleopatra and JoJo. Award-winning novelist Oates throws down an astonishingly clumsy new-sibling picture book, wordy paragraphs displaying no trust whatsoever in her illustrator to help shoulder the narrative load. Mottram’s mostly realistic, soft-edged, digitally created illustrations are attractive, but his manga-eyed cats only serve to boost the treacle factor. Readers tempted by the title and the author’s reputation will be sorely disappointed—Susin Nielsen and Olivia Chin Mueller’s recent Princess Puffybottom…and Darryl (2019) is ears and tails better than this.

An oft-told tale told poorly. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-256392-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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