Upbeat and offbeat at the same time.


One morning, “in a very, very quiet part of the jungle,” some crocodile eggs “softly” hatch—except for one “very happy little croc” who snaps his jaws as he sings and dances.

Not everybody understands that when the croc hears that internal beat, he needs to move his feet. The frog, the monkey, and the snake all tell him to “Shhhhh!” Wee Croc is sad. Eventually he grows into a large croc sadly swimming day after day. His life changes when two birds land on his tail; they offer to clean his teeth by eating the food stuck in them. When Croc explains how sad he is, the birds offer to teach him “their tweety song” in exchange for some food. In an instant, Croc has both music and new friends (and cleaner teeth, but this detail receives no notice). Now that he has a song to tweet, he can teach it to the other animals. It’s fine as long as he tweets, but when he starts snapping those jaws again, they run away. But the other crocs in the river flock around and sing his song with him all night long. Casella’s expressive pictures dance appealingly all around the page, as does Croc’s jazz-infused song, set in a faux hand-lettered typeface. Unfortunately, the book’s message seems a bit muddled. Are animals (and people) only to be friends with their own kind?

Upbeat and offbeat at the same time. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-76036-052-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.


A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet