Perfectly charming, but with little to distinguish it from other bedtime trains in the field, perhaps it is time to put this...

READ REVIEW

THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN ROLLS ON!

From the The Goodnight Train series

It is one thing to put a child to sleep. It is another thing entirely to keep them there.

In this unnecessary sequel to Sobel and Huliska-Beith’s The Goodnight Train (2006), the stalwart locomotive of dreams attempts the near-impossible task of keeping its passengers recumbent. The rhythmic clacking text is back, with its soothing “Chugga! Chugga! Shhhhhhh! Shhhhhhh!” Unfortunately, a smooth journey this is not. There are naughty sheep to negotiate (counting them helps), a moon that’s just too darn bright, and an unexpected detour over Wild Dream Hill, all of which threaten to waken the sleepers. Undaunted, the train goes on, lulling as it does, until the morning light appears. All curves and purple skies in its languid art, the book makes some bold choices, as when it demands a 90-degree turn to open vertically, suggesting the height of a steep hill. That said, this book fails to reach the soporific heights of its predecessor, making it less a book for urging young eyelids to close and more a storytime adventure. There are plenty of fun details to find hidden in the mix, though it is unlikely that this is a book that will be requested for multiple readings.

Perfectly charming, but with little to distinguish it from other bedtime trains in the field, perhaps it is time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-50019-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Visual fun overrides textual inadequacies, making this an enjoyable read with an inarguably valuable message.

ELBOW GREASE

If it first you don’t succeed, try getting hit by lightning.

The smallest of his four brothers, Elbow Grease is an electric-powered monster truck with big dreams. Each one of his brothers is tougher, faster, smarter, or braver than he is, but at least he’s got enough “gumption” to spare. That comes in handy when he rushes off to join a Grand Prix in a fit of pique. And while in the end he doesn’t win, he does at least finish thanks to a conveniently placed lightning bolt. That inspires the true winner of the race (Elbow Grease’s hero, Big Wheels McGee) to declare that it’s gumption that’s the true mark of a winner. With his emphasis on trying new things, even if you fail, Cena, a professional wrestler and celebrity, earnestly offers a legitimately inspiring message even if his writing borders on the pedestrian. Fortunately McWilliam’s illustrations give a great deal of life, emotion, action, and mud splatters to the middling text. Humans are few and far between, but the trucks’ keeper, Mel the mechanic, is pictured as a brown-skinned woman with glasses.

Visual fun overrides textual inadequacies, making this an enjoyable read with an inarguably valuable message. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7350-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Though it’s on the long side, Moore’s tale combines traditional themes and spritely illustrations to create a satisfying,...

CAPTAIN CAT

This quirky tale has something for everyone: an adventurous sea captain, a mysterious island, mounds of treasure, a spunky princess, handsome sailors, charming cats (who are also ruthless hunters), and a clever, if not entirely intentional, comeuppance for a band of greedy merchants.

The lengthy text covers a fair amount of time and distance in a conversational tone that suits the story’s origin as an “old Italian tale” (according to the flyleaf; there is no other source note). Captain Cat’s business sense, according to his colleagues, is sadly lacking, as he cheerfully trades goods of great value for his feline friends. Moreover, his urge to explore eventually sends him off in the opposite direction from the traditional trade routes. Ironically, he winds up on an island where his cats are more precious than gold—and where they are more than happy to settle down. Captain Cat, on the other hand, continues to sail, first back to his home port, where his wealth dazzles the other merchants, and then on across the open seas. Moore’s mixed-media illustrations have the appearance of pen and ink and watercolor. A preponderance of mostly muted blues, greens, browns and tans create convincing watery vistas and rocky beaches as well as a plethora of cheerful-looking, big-eyed cats.

Though it’s on the long side, Moore’s tale combines traditional themes and spritely illustrations to create a satisfying, offbeat adventure. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6151-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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