Hyperbole taken to the utmost thanks to the bottomless well of transportation enthusiasm.

ON THE GO AWESOME

Dedicated to the notion that there is always something more awesome to attempt.

A kid lets their mind wander to its natural limits. If, for example, “trains are cool,” and if “watching a train is very cool,” and if “riding on a train is even cooler,” then “conducting a train through the mountains” must be “CHUGGA CHUGGA AWESOME!” This pattern is replicated with a wide variety of other heavy-duty machines. Operating an excavator? “DIG INTO AWESOME!” Piloting a plane? “PREPARE FOR AWESOME!” The child, who has pale skin, like parents and sibling, and straight, dark hair, imagines operating subway trains, monster trucks, boats, and rockets. (Background characters are racially diverse; the woman-of-color co-pilot is a nice touch.) Finally the kid looks out the window of a camper. “Campers are cool. Wait! Are campers cool?” They sure are, and this is one family adventure the kid can actually take outside of the imagination. Detlefsen’s text delights in drilling into just how much fun each of the activities featured could be. Meanwhile, the colorful, cartoon artwork meticulously works to render every “awesome” encounter in its natural, amazing extreme. From the blinding array of instruments in the cockpit of an airplane to the sight of tiny cars being crushed beneath monster wheels, there’s a jolt of adrenaline cooked into every page. The transportation-obsessed have found a new tale to pore over. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 30.5% of actual size.)

Hyperbole taken to the utmost thanks to the bottomless well of transportation enthusiasm. (Picture books. 2-4)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-5234-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

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

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Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book.

SCOOPER AND DUMPER

Friends don’t let friends expire in snowdrifts.

Convoluted storytelling and confusing art turn a cute premise into a mishmash of a book. Scooper’s a front loader that works in the town salt yard, replenishing the snowplows that arrive. Dumper’s her best friend, more than happy to plow and salt the roads himself. When the big city calls in Dumper to help with a snow squall, he brushes off Scooper’s concerns. Yet slippery roads and a seven-vehicle pileup launch poor Dumper onto his side in a snowbank. Can Scooper overcome fears that she’s too slow and save the day? Following a plot as succinct as this should be a breeze, but the rhyming text obfuscates more than it clarifies. Lines such as, “Dumper’s here— / let’s rock ’n’ roll! / Big city’s callin’ for / some small-town soul” can prove impenetrable. The art of the book matches this confusion, with light-blue Dumper often hard to pick out among other, similarly colored vehicles, particularly in the snowstorm. Speech bubbles, as when the city calls for Scooper’s and Dumper’s help, lead to a great deal of visual confusion. Scooper is also featured sporting long eyelashes and a bow, lest anyone mistake the dithering, frightened truck as anything but female. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.8% of actual size.)

Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9268-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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