A master of the bedtime hush, Fox shines.

An adult mouse spins tales to lull a young mouse to sleep.

Bedtime often begs for creativity in parents if they are called upon for a story. The child ends up hearing an inventive mix of a little of this and a little of that. Fox whirls that colloquialism into a gentle rhyme, beginning with the soothing refrain: “I’ll tell you a story of this, / and I’ll tell you a story of that.” Each scenario that follows is a tantalizing possibility: “I’ll tell you a story / of cavernous caves / and a chimp / with a magic hat.” Here Horacek transforms the tiny mouse’s bed, a green box, into a boat, taking both parent and child on an adventure past said silly monkeys. Then, mouse and pup scamper to a new setting, while the narrator again intones, “I’ll tell you a story of this, / and I’ll tell you a story of that.” As the conceit spins itself out, Horacek’s boldly outlined critter duo find themselves in a bustling, multicultural market—meeting a pair of tangled giraffes that are trying to sit on a mat—and then a castle filled with royalty of all races (where, of course, kings and queens liked to chat). The repetition of “that” and the many words that rhyme with it creates a rhythm that encourages participation and can also be used by the adult to dial down a child’s energy at the end of the day.

A master of the bedtime hush, Fox shines. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-03780-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016


Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016


Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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