OTTER OUT OF WATER

Stick with Numeroff for her if-then tales, and look to Eric Pinder and Marc Brown’s If All the Animals Came Inside and Judi...

The age-old trope of an animal following someone home is taken to new levels in this look at an otter out of water.

An otter in the water is a fascinating creature, but what if he leaves the water? What if he stays out and follows you home? Two children experience just such a thing in Wargin’s imaginative verse. A ranger finally tracks the otter to the children’s house, but will he stay away? Probably not—too much fun has been had. Unfortunately, the verse doesn’t always scan well either rhythmically or visually; the rhyming words are set in a larger font, but some are on the right-hand pages and some on the left, and often lines are split in two to fit the page layout. The result is often confusing and may trip readers up instead of helping them along. “What if the otter / remains in your house? / Would he bounce / on the chairs? / Would he skid / down the stairs? // Would he swing / on the curtains / that hang in / neat pairs? / Do you think an otter belongs in the house?” This otter is sure to remind readers of the beloved mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, but this tries too hard to rhyme, and the story gets a bit lost in the telling.

Stick with Numeroff for her if-then tales, and look to Eric Pinder and Marc Brown’s If All the Animals Came Inside and Judi Barrett’s romps for more animals-acting-like-people humor. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58536-431-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

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

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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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