Dynamic monsters cavort and shriek and play with color.

These monsters have googly eyes, big cartoon grins and unthreateningly rounded bodies. At the beginning, some are a single primary color, while others are smaller and gray. One red monster, one yellow monster and one blue monster extol the virtues of their own colors with jubilant chantability if not strict logic: “Red is the color of ROAR! and SNORE! and more! more! MORE!”; “Yellow is the color of PROWL! and HOWL! and GROWL! GROWL! GROWL!”; “Blue is the color of Scribble and Dribble and Nibble Nibble Nibble.” Other verses are more hit-or-miss—for example, one page tries to rhyme “splash” with “squash,” which may cause a stumble for adults reading aloud. However, all the monsters gyrate and boogie with exuberance, and their mixing of colors has exciting results. The small gray monsters become secondary colors, and one lucky little fellow who requests “SUPER tropical MEGA monster RAINBOW swirl with raspberry on TOP!” gets multicolored stripes and a rainbow parade to lead. Austin’s squiggly, untamed swirls of crayon, pencil and ink and the high energy in his casual style (complete with silliness: “Hey! Don’t eat your crayons, silly monster!”) may coax even the bounciest little monsters to sit down for storytime—and run for the crayons and poster paper afterwards.

Groovy. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-212594-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...


The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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