WINTER DANCE

An exemplary addition to the shelves of nature-themed picture books.

As winter begins to set in, a curious fox wonders what he ought to do.

Winter is coming—a snowflake has just fallen on the nose of the “fine red fox”—and he wonders what he should do. With each page turn, he encounters a critter that gives him advice. A caterpillar tells him to wrap himself in a chrysalis and become a butterfly in the spring, but the fox replies that he was “not meant to fly.” The bat tells him to find a cave, hang by his toes, and go to sleep, but the fox says his “toes would get tired.” The squirrel tells him to “gather, gather, gather,” but the fox replies, “I don’t even like acorns.” In this cheerful way, readers follow the fox through his rambles while learning what different creatures do during the winter. Bauer’s free-verse narrative is sprightly and accomplished, with a playful touch and earnest humor. Jones’ full-page illustrations, done in rich, muted earth tones, are stunningly designed and executed—the hare is particularly effective—while the book’s illustrated endpapers amplify the story with satisfying detail. What the fox ultimately finds to do may surprise readers, but it is, like the rest of the book, based in fact.

An exemplary addition to the shelves of nature-themed picture books. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-31334-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

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

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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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