A deserving if not divine little book, worthy of its pint-sized enthusiasts

READ REVIEW

THE LITTLE FIRE TRUCK

Clearly The Little Dump Truck (2009) and The Little School Bus (2014) were just the prelude to Cuyler and Kolar’s most ambitious project yet.

“Perky” would not be a poor way of describing the little fire truck that shuttles its white driver, Jill, and her racially diverse fire crew all over town. Each rhyming stanza, one per spread, begins with the line “I’m a little fire truck” then proceeds in a standard abcb rhyme scheme. After rescuing a cat, the firefighters must contend with a burning building. Happily it just takes a couple “splish-splosh” squirts of the fire hose to put everything right. Aimed at toddlers and younger preschoolers, the art proves to be just as simple as the text. The digital illustrations keep the color bright, the anthropomorphized truck perky, and the situations shy of scary. Cuyler even opts to ensure that the burning building is pet- and baby-free. When it comes to true firefighting enthusiasts, more is always better, hence the endpapers’ impressive (not to mention diverse and gender-inclusive) visual dictionary of terms. (Front and rear are identical.) Alas, no fire-safety tips are included aside from the visual image of Jill and crew crawling along the floor, so continue to turn to Mike Austin’s Fire Engine No. 9 (2015) as the industry standard.

A deserving if not divine little book, worthy of its pint-sized enthusiasts . (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-805-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Preschoolers enamored with construction equipment will enjoy this cheerful tale, which is simple enough for little ones just...

DALMATIAN IN A DIGGER

Four animals with heavy construction equipment arrive to build a treehouse as a surprise for a Dalmatian puppy.

The puppy awakens to loud, unexpected sounds and a foreshadowing glimpse of a big, metal scoop outside the bedroom window. The puppy joyously discovers an adult Dalmatian driving an excavator, called a “digger” in this British author/illustrator’s text. Just a couple of brief sentences describe the action of the digger, punctuated with creative sound effects incorporated into the illustrations in collage-effect letters. Another set of loud sounds precedes the arrival of a camel in a crane, followed by a duck in a dump truck, and a bear in a bulldozer. Each new piece of equipment has its own set of exuberant sounds that relate loosely to the machine’s function, such as “DUMP, SPLAT, CRASH” for the dump truck. The patterned text uses the machines’ sounds as a predictive device, with a dramatic page turn to reveal the next animal and corresponding construction equipment. Bold, movement-filled illustrations create a buoyant atmosphere, with jaunty animal characters and bright flowers and trees surrounding the construction site. There’s a bit of a logic gap between the heavy equipment and the concluding treehouse, as there are no carpenters shown building the actual house. Another small drawback is the gender bias in the four animal equipment drivers, as only one is identified as female; the puppy’s gender is not specified.

Preschoolers enamored with construction equipment will enjoy this cheerful tale, which is simple enough for little ones just transitioning into real stories. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62370-802-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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To quote one particularly joyous double-page spread, “Oh, what a ride!”

BEAR CAME ALONG

A succession of forest creatures—and even the river itself—learn from one another and validate their relationships with both one another and the wider world.

The simplicity of the text and the stylized, comical creatures belie the depth of the message that comes through for even the youngest of readers: We are all in this together, and our differences strengthen our unity. The river “didn’t know it was a river…until” Bear accidentally begins riding down it on a piece of broken tree trunk. Bear in turn doesn’t realize he is on an adventure until Froggy lands on his back; lonely Froggy doesn’t know how many friends she has until the wary Turtles show up on the ever-more-swiftly-moving log; the Turtles learn how to enjoy the ride when Beaver climbs aboard; and so on through several more characters until they are all at the brink of a waterfall. Outstanding art perfectly complements the text, showing the animals’ differing personalities while also using color, space, and patterns to create appealing scenery. There are several hilarious double-page spreads, including one from the animals’ collective perspective, showing solely the various feet on the tree-trunk–cum-raft at the waterfall’s edge, and one requiring a 90-degree turn, showing the plummeting animals as they reach for one another—some looking worried and others, like Duck and Beaver, obviously enjoying the sudden drop.

To quote one particularly joyous double-page spread, “Oh, what a ride!”  (author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-46447-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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