Confirmed train fans should check out true informational train books at 625.2; for toddlers, stick with age-appropriate...

READ REVIEW

WHAT'S IN MY TRAIN?

Fans of Thomas the Tank Engine may be tempted by this busy, lift-the-flap board book.

It’s an ambitious one—perhaps too ambitious. Of the five trains shown, four are either antiquated or highly specialized; only the passenger train will be recognized by young rail riders. On each double-page spread, four to six lines of informational text lead to a question, with the answer to be found under the flaps. Unfortunately the game is not straightforward. Sometimes lifting a flap provides further information, but other flaps pose unrelated questions that will distract young children. For example, on the spread about the long-distance passenger train, a tab at the front of the train hides pictures of sports equipment and asks readers, “What is your favorite sport?” A large tab on the rodeo train reveals a horse with its tack and a very wordy seek-and-find game. The tiny and thin lift-the-flap tabs are difficult for small fingers to manipulate. Each train is populated by doll-like figures with a mix of skin tones. All but one of the engineers is male, though they do appear to be racially diverse. Older readers who can already answer many of the questions posed will be put off by the board-book format.

Confirmed train fans should check out true informational train books at 625.2; for toddlers, stick with age-appropriate classics by Donald Crews or Byron Barton. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-90768-2

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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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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A Christmas train book that gets derailed by a lacking story arc.

SANTA AND THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN

From the The Goodnight Train series

Not quite the Polar Express….

Sobel’s rhyming text fails to deliver a clear premise for the eponymous goodnight train’s Christmas Eve progress through the pages, and Huliska-Beith’s acrylic paintings embellished with fabric and paper collage don’t clarify the storytelling. At the start of the picture book, a bevy of anthropomorphic animals decorates a rather rickety-looking engine, and then human children gather around and pile into train cars that look like beds and cribs. The train follows a track, seemingly in pursuit of Santa’s sleigh, but to what end isn’t clear. They travel “through a town of gingerbread” and through the woods to find the sleigh blocking the tracks and the reindeer snoozing while, mystifyingly, Santa counts some sheep. Perching the sleigh on the train’s cowcatcher, they all proceed to the North Pole, where the “elves all cheer. / Santa’s here until next year!” But then the goodnight train just…leaves, “heading home on Christmas Eve.” Was this a dream? It definitely wasn’t a story with a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. Santa’s face is never seen; the human children and elves are diverse.

A Christmas train book that gets derailed by a lacking story arc. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-61840-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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