OCEAN STAR EXPRESS

Joe and his mum and dad are vacationing at the Ocean Star Hotel. At first the weather is perfect; Joe gets to learn to swim and visit the boardwalk. The sixth day dawns foggy and rainy and Joe, who looks to be about five, quickly becomes bored. The hotel’s owner, Mr. Robertson, offers Joe a trip around the world. After expressing disbelief, Joe follows Mr. Robertson up to the attic and enters the world of the Ocean Star Express. Mr. Robertson’s miniature train set travels from room to room in the attic, and each new room is a different environment: snow-capped mountains, camel-filled deserts, lighthouse by the sea. They paint a figurine to look like Joe and then place it on the train. When they go downstairs, the rain has stopped. Even after the vacation is over, Joe rides the Ocean Star Express in his dreams. Haddon has created a sweet and simple story that young train enthusiasts will enjoy. They will likely identify with Joe and get into the illustrations of the Express in its many different rooms. However, the text may be too long and lack the pep some of the youngest train lovers demand. Sutton’s illustrations are similar to Christian Birmingham’s from Haddon’s Sea of Tranquility (1996). They are soft, almost nostalgic, but realistic and some feature a giant-seeming Joe behind the scenery. Purchase multiple copies if you’ve got demand—the paperback binding is strong, but won’t hold up like a hardcover. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-00-664600-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins UK/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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SUBWAY RIDE

Take a ride on subway trains all around the world. Beginning in Cairo, a multicultural group of children rides the trains in ten cities, zigzagging from stop to stop around the globe. The brief text is in serviceable near-verse (“Rumbling, roaring— / blurring speed. / Silver bullet. / Rushing breeze”), but barely registers against Ramá’s vibrant digital collages of watercolor art. Vivid colors and blurred lines evoke a bustling cheer. Cleverly composed to suggest both depth and action, the pictures tell most of the story: Atlanta’s dark tunnels, Chicago’s El (a slight deviation from the underground theme), jazz combos in the Stockholm stations and so on, an iconic ticket indicating from place to place where readers and riders are. The book ends with crisp thumbnail portraits of the subways in the cities, which also include London, Mexico City, Moscow, New York, Tokyo and Washington, D.C. The offbeat idea is deftly handled and should trigger further study. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-58089-111-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2009

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A picture-book favorite despite minor flaws? That’s a 10-4, good buddy.

TEENY TINY TRUCKS

In McCanna and Frawley’s cheery picture-book debut, miniscule vehicles drive into supersized action.

Accompanied by a bouncy rhyme, several brightly colored trucks rumble through the garden: the lead red-and-blue truck, the more feminine purple truck and the gridlock-loathing aqua truck. Though the color palette and cartoon appearance of the nameless vehicles may seem like a carbon copy of Disney’s Cars (2006), illustrator Frawley has included humorous details for each truck, giving them life beyond their big-screen predecessors. For instance, the red-and-blue truck has jaunty eyebrows created from roof lights, the purple truck’s short bursts of steam look like daisies, and the aqua truck’s expressive eyebrows are actually wiper blades. The illustrations help tell a hilarious story, most notably of a traffic jam featuring a frog, slug and worm who are clearly not amused by the crowded garden path. McCanna similarly handles the text well. The rhythmic pattern is clear, most of the rhyme is spot-on—“Teeny tiny tires. With teeny tiny treads. / Leaving teeny tiny trails between the flower beds”—and the story begs to be read aloud to a group. Typical trucker talk is included in the dialogue—“Breaker breaker, Buddy!” “What’s your twenty, Friend?”—and the lingo is explained in a short glossary at the end of the story. Though the premise is amusing, the proportion of the trucks in relation to their surroundings can be a bit inconsistent. Most images depict the trucks, which are “smaller than a dime,” as being only marginally bigger than ants and bees, yet other images portray the trucks as being much larger—almost half as long as a box of animal crackers. Nevertheless, this delightful story will charm truck-loving children.

A picture-book favorite despite minor flaws? That’s a 10-4, good buddy.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0989668811

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Bahalia Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2013

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