Busy, crowded, vibrant—like a party.

Sundry animals with a common goal squabble, shriek, and work it out.

It’s Little Robin’s birthday. The “other animals in the zoo” are planning a party. There’s nary a cage, zookeeper, or human; the “zoo” claim is merely a casual, forgettable premise that explains the wildly diverse animals hanging out together. There are roosters from Portugal, Jamaica, Nigeria, Germany, and China and frogs from North America, Poland, Iran, Korea, Thailand, and Italy. (Origins are conveyed textually.) When everyone tries to plan the party’s “perfect” music (“moosic,” says Mr. Cow from England) by belting their own song, it’s a “cacophany”—animals are “roaring, mooing, yelping, braying, squawking and meowing,” all in their respective languages. There is the same problem with food (“fooohhhuuod” says Mr. Owl from the United States): Shouts for curry, phō, egusi, and sadza; an artichoke, a croissant, and sushi fly through the air. Both tussles resolve with a quick, didactic message. Sing “to-ge-ther,” commands Ms. Water Buffalo, the din becoming a “grand melody” under her direction. Accidentally mixing all the foods somehow produces “the tastiest thing” Little Robin’s ever eaten. The cooperation lessons offer no applicable how-to’s—combining myriad international dishes into one mish-mosh-stew might not really taste superb—but Baum-Owoyele’s cheerful watercolors have a true party feeling. The small trim size overcrowds the animals, but their bright colors and keen-edged shapes, crisp and energetic against the white background, bounce with energy.

Busy, crowded, vibrant—like a party. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-953458-12-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Yeehoo Press

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021


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


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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