Bubbling with an easy joy and nascent sense of justice—and the notion that the two can certainly go hand in hand.

WOKE BABY

A bright, amusing glimpse at all the things woke babies do in this collaboration from Browne and Taylor.

Folks well-versed in their internet memes will remember the little webcomic “Feminist Baby,” by Loryn Brantz, companion to the 2017 board book of the same name. A couple checking to see if baby is asleep finds her both awake and “woke” as she proclaims from her crib that gender is a social construct. This picture book picks up the pun and runs with it. From raising little fists for justice through kicking glass ceilings to babbling songs of freedom, spread after spread shows a woke baby’s activities, intertwining a baby of color’s squirms, wiggles, and vocalizations with the symbols and gestures of resistance. Browne’s laconic prose communicates much while saying relatively little, leaving room for the sweeping vibrancy of Taylor’s open and up-close illustrations to direct Browne’s poetic beat toward the thrum of the page turn. The playful irony casts a shadow of gravitas as the little sequence of baby’s doings captures truths that even the youngest in families of color (and other marginalized households) must know, as well as provides conversation starters for those readers interested in nurturing a commitment to allyship. A board-book edition publishes simultaneously; Taylor’s images shrink to the format well enough, but some pages feel crowded with text.

Bubbling with an easy joy and nascent sense of justice—and the notion that the two can certainly go hand in hand. (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-295-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Wonderful, indeed

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THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE

A GROWING-UP POEM

A love song to baby with delightful illustrations to boot.

Sweet but not saccharine and singsong but not forced, Martin’s text is one that will invite rereadings as it affirms parental wishes for children while admirably keeping child readers at its heart. The lines that read “This is the first time / There’s ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do” capture the essence of the picture book and are accompanied by a diverse group of babies and toddlers clad in downright adorable outfits. Other spreads include older kids, too, and pictures expand on the open text to visually interpret the myriad possibilities and hopes for the depicted children. For example, a spread reading “Will you learn how to fly / To find the best view?” shows a bespectacled, school-aged girl on a swing soaring through an empty white background. This is just one spread in which Martin’s fearless embrace of the white of the page serves her well. Throughout the book, she maintains a keen balance of layout choices, and surprising details—zebras on the wallpaper behind a father cradling his child, a rock-’n’-roll band of mice paralleling the children’s own band called “The Missing Teeth”—add visual interest and gentle humor. An ideal title for the baby-shower gift bag and for any nursery bookshelf or lap-sit storytime.

Wonderful, indeed . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37671-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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