A well-constructed book that depicts a healthy male friendship.

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LARRY AND BOB

Two animal fathers form an unusual friendship in this quirky but touching picture book from author Schaufeld and illustrator Schwarz (The Lollipop Tree, 2013).

Larry is a bald eagle guarding his egg in a tall tree. Bob is a smallmouth bass, “protecting 19,003 eggs” in the river below. When Larry catches Bob, the fish doesn’t simply accept his fate as a meal; he appeals to Larry, “dad to dad,” agreeing to let the eagle eat him in one year, after his own fry are grown. Larry is skeptical but makes the deal, and ultimately, this decision saves the life of his chick, Larry Junior, whom Bob later rescues when he falls into the river. When Bob finally goes to meet his fate, Larry can’t eat him—after all, the fish saved his son. Instead, they form an unlikely friendship. The eagle confesses that, as a solitary bird, he feels lonely, and Bob, despite being surrounded by other fish, reveals that he feels the same. For years, the predator and prey meet at a rock, swim and fly upstream together, and talk about their problems. But eventually, Bob’s age catches up with him, and he asks Larry to take him on one last flight. Overall, this is a touching story, and Schaufeld tells it in a calm, melodic style. The placement of the two male characters as caregivers and primary parents puts a nice spin on gender expectations. Schwarz’s realistic paintings are beautifully rendered and include some exquisite landscapes. Kids will enjoy finding the dragonfly that Schwarz has hidden on each page, but adults will appreciate the illustrator’s unique eye; for example, several paintings show the fish’s perspective from underwater, and the textured results are suitable for framing.

A well-constructed book that depicts a healthy male friendship.

Pub Date: June 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9972299-0-5

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Quidne Press

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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The greeting-card art and jokey rhymes work for the baby-shower market but not for the youngest readers.

I LOVE YOU LIKE NO OTTER

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring through rhymed puns and sentimental art.

The title sets the scene for what’s to come: The owl asks the owlet as they fly together, “WHOO loves you?”; the kangaroo and joey make each other “very HOPPY”; and the lioness and cub are a “PURRRFECT pair.” Most of the puns are both unimaginative and groanworthy, and they are likely to go over the heads of toddlers, who are not know for their wordplay abilities. The text is set in abcb quatrains split over two double-page spreads. On each spread, one couplet appears on the verso within a lightly decorated border on pastel pages. On the recto, a full-bleed portrait of the animal and baby appears in softly colored and cozy images. Hearts are prominent on every page, floating between the parent and baby as if it is necessary to show the love between each pair. Although these critters are depicted in mistily conceived natural habitats and are unclothed, they are human stand-ins through and through.

The greeting-card art and jokey rhymes work for the baby-shower market but not for the youngest readers. (Board book. 6 mos-2)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1374-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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