Arrr…frolicsome imagery cannot save this landlubber rodent from sinking beneath his book’s awkward text.

READ REVIEW

SQUIRREL ME TIMBERS

A scrappy, scurvy squirrel finds his heart’s desire.

Sammy lives in the forest but dreams of being a pirate on the high seas. When he stumbles upon a treasure map, it appears his prayers have been answered. Alas, his path is fraught with dangers, from toothy crocodiles to prickly porcupines to haunted swamps. Besting each challenge, Sammy reaches his destination, but what’s this? No treasure? Distraught, Sammy kicks the nearest tree—and what rains down upon him will surprise few. Pigott’s mixed-media art portrays Sammy as a chipper red squirrel, complete with the obligatory, stereotypical eye patch, pirate hat, and jaunty gold earring. Disability cliché aside, the pictures have a lot of appeal, deeply saturated colors popping off the page. Occasionally the book is positively atmospheric, as when Sammy finds himself adrift in a misty marsh. Unfortunately, the text is characterized by clunky verse and a hectoring narrative voice: “Run away, Sammy, from this spooky trap! / We’re nearly at X marks the spot on the map!” The book ends with a sudden flashback to the original squirrel pirates that buried their acorn treasure, planting the mighty oaks that reward Sammy. (Squirrel pirates have it hard, considering that their buried treasure tends to sprout.)

Arrr…frolicsome imagery cannot save this landlubber rodent from sinking beneath his book’s awkward text. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-652-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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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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Readers are likely to love it to the moon and back.

WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND?

Little Nutbrown Hare ventures out into the wide world and comes back with a new companion in this sequel to Guess How Much I Love You (1994).

Big Nutbrown Hare is too busy, so after asking permission, Little Nutbrown Hare scampers off over the rolling meadow to play by himself. After discovering that neither his shadow nor his reflection make satisfactory playmates (“You’re only another me!”), Little Nutbrown comes to Cloudy Mountain…and meets “Someone real!” It’s a white bunny who introduces herself as Tipps. But a wonderful round of digging and building and chasing about reaches an unexpected end with a game of hide-and-seek, because both hares hide! After waiting a long time to be found, Little Nutbrown Hare hops on home in disappointment, wondering whether he’ll ever see Tipps again. As it turns out, it doesn’t take long to find out, since she has followed him. “Now, where on earth did she come from?” wonders Big Nutbrown. “Her name is Tipps,” Little Nutbrown proudly replies, “and she’s my friend.” Jeram’s spacious, pale-toned, naturalistic outdoor scenes create a properly idyllic setting for this cozy development in a tender child-caregiver relationship—which hasn’t lost a bit of its appealing intimacy in the more than 25 years since its first appearance. As in the first, Big Nutbrown Hare is ungendered, facilitating pleasingly flexible readings.

Readers are likely to love it to the moon and back. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1747-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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