A calm, imaginative bedtime story with a few bumps along the way.

Star Wishes

Would you like to wish on a star? Three young children wish on the same star in three different countries on different nights in this clever and beautifully illustrated book by debut author Cox.

In the United States, a boy, wearing dinosaur pajamas and toting a stuffed duck, wants to look at the stars instead of going to bed. His mother allows him to study the night sky, and he spots the brightest star—the wishing star. He makes a wish, and just as he is about to tell his mother what he’s wished for, she tells him not to, or his wish won’t come true. The boy then recalls his teacher’s visit to Japan, and he asks his mother if a boy there is wishing on the star, too. She tells him it isn’t night in Japan, introducing young readers to the idea of time zones, but she bets when it is night, a Japanese boy will wish on the same star. Turn the page, and a young Japanese boy with striped pajamas and a stuffed panda goes through the same process with the wishing star. This boy’s teacher visited Germany, so he asks about a German boy’s wish. Soon after, a little German boy with blue pajamas and a stuffed rabbit looks at the star and wonders if an American boy will make a wish on it as well. Cox introduces the words for “good night” in three languages (including English, where the pronunciation provided is unnecessary, as those are not among the most challenging words in the book). Unfortunately, the transliteration provided for the Japanese (usually “oyasuminasai”) is misspelled (“oyasminasai”), and the suggested German pronunciation (“goo-tah-naht”) is missing the “ch” sound. Still, the concept of the children’s thoughts about children in other countries is charming, and Hallman’s subtly shaded illustrations, with her large-headed, big-eyed, wide-smiling children, are delightful. The stuffed animals and the dinosaur-covered pillowcase of the American boy add lovely, authentic details to the boys’ rooms.

A calm, imaginative bedtime story with a few bumps along the way.

Pub Date: March 26, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2015

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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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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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