RED TRUCK

It’s cold, wet and snowy outside, and a school bus is stuck on a hill. Can an unassuming red tow truck make it through the mud, flooding and foul weather, and then up the incline to save the day? Children waiting by the bus at the side of the road act as cheerleaders for this little-tow-truck-who-could and wait for its appearance with bated breath. Crisp, rhyming and straightforward text (“Can Red Truck make it up the hill? Red Truck CAN! Red Truck WILL!”), liberally splashed with onomatopoeia (“Zoooom!” “Sploooosh!” “Vrooooom!”), describes the truck’s valiant efforts, and vibrant, colorful illustrations will draw young listeners in and make them right at home. Endpapers that show Red Truck zooming on its way add a clever, finishing touch. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-670-06275-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2008

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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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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

INFINITE COUNTRY

A 15-year-old girl in Colombia, doing time in a remote detention center, orchestrates a jail break and tries to get home.

"People say drugs and alcohol are the greatest and most persuasive narcotics—the elements most likely to ruin a life. They're wrong. It's love." As the U.S. recovers from the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, from the misery of separations on the border, from both the idea and the reality of a wall around the United States, Engel's vital story of a divided Colombian family is a book we need to read. Weaving Andean myth and natural symbolism into her narrative—condors signify mating for life, jaguars revenge; the embattled Colombians are "a singed species of birds without feathers who can still fly"; children born in one country and raised in another are "repotted flowers, creatures forced to live in the wrong habitat"—she follows Talia, the youngest child, on a complex journey. Having committed a violent crime not long before she was scheduled to leave her father in Bogotá to join her mother and siblings in New Jersey, she winds up in a horrible Catholic juvie from which she must escape in order to make her plane. Hence the book's wonderful first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun." Talia's cross-country journey is interwoven with the story of her parents' early romance, their migration to the United States, her father's deportation, her grandmother's death, the struggle to reunite. In the latter third of the book, surprising narrative shifts are made to include the voices of Talia's siblings, raised in the U.S. This provides interesting new perspectives, but it is a little awkward to break the fourth wall so late in the book. Attention, TV and movie people: This story is made for the screen.

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982159-46-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Preschoolers enamored with construction equipment will enjoy this cheerful tale, which is simple enough for little ones just...

DALMATIAN IN A DIGGER

Four animals with heavy construction equipment arrive to build a treehouse as a surprise for a Dalmatian puppy.

The puppy awakens to loud, unexpected sounds and a foreshadowing glimpse of a big, metal scoop outside the bedroom window. The puppy joyously discovers an adult Dalmatian driving an excavator, called a “digger” in this British author/illustrator’s text. Just a couple of brief sentences describe the action of the digger, punctuated with creative sound effects incorporated into the illustrations in collage-effect letters. Another set of loud sounds precedes the arrival of a camel in a crane, followed by a duck in a dump truck, and a bear in a bulldozer. Each new piece of equipment has its own set of exuberant sounds that relate loosely to the machine’s function, such as “DUMP, SPLAT, CRASH” for the dump truck. The patterned text uses the machines’ sounds as a predictive device, with a dramatic page turn to reveal the next animal and corresponding construction equipment. Bold, movement-filled illustrations create a buoyant atmosphere, with jaunty animal characters and bright flowers and trees surrounding the construction site. There’s a bit of a logic gap between the heavy equipment and the concluding treehouse, as there are no carpenters shown building the actual house. Another small drawback is the gender bias in the four animal equipment drivers, as only one is identified as female; the puppy’s gender is not specified.

Preschoolers enamored with construction equipment will enjoy this cheerful tale, which is simple enough for little ones just transitioning into real stories. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62370-802-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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