A charming and adorably illustrated holiday tale of canine adventure and city exploration.

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A lost dog navigates Portland, Oregon, at Christmastime in this illustrated children’s book.

Brownie, a brown and white Swiss Bernese, is thrilled to visit Portland with her human family to see the holiday decorations (“PDX, as it’s known, was all dressed up in lights / Loaded with Christmas-y, tasty delights”). When the canine gets lost, she roams the city looking for her family but gets distracted by delicious smells and festive sights, including Santa’s North Pole, a kids’ “winter wonderland faire,” and “great Christmas ships” on the river. But when “the big, peckish pup” smells something yummy on one of the boats, she hops aboard and messily devours a pot of fondue, horrifying the vessel’s humans. Back on land, Brownie grows cold and scared. As she cries, she is approached by a marten with a “bright red beret” named Martin (“Trash is my game”). He gives the sad pooch shelter and sustenance. The next day, the two critters head to Pioneer Square to find Brownie’s family. Things feel hopeless until Brownie gets a familiar whiff of bacon. She follows the scent “straight to her family!”—which is happy to see her. Back home, Brownie, her family (two adults and three kids), and Martin enjoy a pleasant Christmas. Stoner provides an engaging insider look at Portland’s lively holiday happenings. Those familiar with the city will enjoy spotting recognizable locales and events, while others will appreciate Portland’s offerings through the eyes of the daring dog protagonist. Khmelevska’s energetic illustrations show joyful, bustling city scenes and the cheerful White family. They feature holiday accents such as sparkles, snow-dusted dwellings, and Christmas spectacles like a gigantic tree. Recognizable Portland locations are noted in the images, including Powell’s City of Books and the Burnside Bridge.

A charming and adorably illustrated holiday tale of canine adventure and city exploration.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-954017-05-4

Page Count: 59

Publisher: Marionberry Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2021


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

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. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014


Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

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