Young children will easily relate to Elliot’s experience of loneliness and his relief at inclusion, both convincingly...

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LITTLE ELLIOT, BIG FAMILY

From the Little Elliot series

The pachyderm who searched for friendship in Little Elliot, Big City (2014) returns to seek a family in this follow-up.

Elliot’s buddy, Mouse, is departing for a family reunion. With a huge clan—the cousins alone total 147—the group size in Mouse’s photograph contrasts with the two figures (Elliot and Mouse) in Elliot’s frame. Curato’s palette and style are reminiscent of Edward Hopper. The lone elephant appears in an open window, the sole figure in a double-page spread depicting rows of closed, opaque panes in a brown facade near a barren tree: “The house was quiet. And empty.” Subdued greens and reds predominate, and while some of the figures in the multiethnic neighborhood scenes are in groups, others are hidden behind newspapers or shadows, adding to the sense of isolation. Employing a restrained text, Curato mines the visuals for emotional impact, as when he portrays Elliot among a sea of empty chairs inside the cinema, tearfully watching a family film. The black-and-white movie connects to reality when the protagonist exits into a nocturnal snowfall. All is well when Mouse, having missed Elliot, invites him back to the candlelit attic feast. Playful endpapers mimic fine art and family portraits, with one very large addition.

Young children will easily relate to Elliot’s experience of loneliness and his relief at inclusion, both convincingly captured in this elegant tale. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9826-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

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 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture...

WHEN I PRAY FOR YOU

Turner adds another title to his picture-book series that highlights the miracles in the mundane (When God Made Light, 2018, etc.).

In the vein of children’s-bookshelf stalwart Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Turner’s rhyming text includes both prayers and life advice for a growing child, beginning with infancy and moving on to adolescence. At times the rhyme and meter are strained, muddling meaning and making the tempo feel occasionally awkward when read aloud. Overall, though, the book executes its mission, presenting Christian theological truths within the rhythmic inspirational text. For this third series installment Turner’s text is paired with a new illustrator, whose bright illustrations of wide-eyed children have great shelf appeal. While David Catrow’s previous illustrations in the series featured effervescent black protagonists, the child in Barnes’ illustrations appears white, though she occupies an otherwise diverse world. While illustrated as a prayer from a mother for her daughter, the text itself is gender neutral.

Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture books. (Picture book/religion. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-52565058-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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