TRAIN

A JOURNEY THROUGH THE PAGES BOOK

A clever idea, but it’s not likely to need more than a one-way ticket.

A locomotive slides along a continuous slot that winds its way through a series of settings.

Instructions on the rear cover are required reading. The journey begins by pushing the small plastic toy parked on the last page through a tunnel in the heavy board leaves to the front. “As sunrise glows red on the bay,” the pinned locomotive can then be pushed along on a looping course to the edge of the page and (with a tricky but, with practice, smooth transition) around the overleaf to a “desert bright with orange clay.” The ride continues across a flat prairie farm, up a green mountainside, down through a twilit town, and past city skyscrapers to a railyard—whereupon the slot loops back around to the beginning. It’s all about the gimmick; aside from a distant rider on a horse in the desert scene, the landscapes are empty of human figures and, being as generic as the accompanying rhyme throughout, much of anything else to look at or for. The engine has no moving parts, nor does it pull any cars, and while it won’t fall out of the slot on its own, little fingers won’t have much trouble pulling it free.

A clever idea, but it’s not likely to need more than a one-way ticket. (Novelty board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7611-8716-5

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

THE HUG

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

LITTLE GRUMP TRUCK

Should appeal to all the little grump trucks hauling their feelings about.

When dump trucks get angry (really, really angry), head for the hills!

Little Dump Truck is “the happiest member of the construction crew.” Assisting everyone from Excavator to Bulldozer, she hauls her load merrily. But sometimes things just don’t go her way. In rapid succession, dirt is blown in her face, a tire is punctured, and a flock of birds mistake her for a lavatory. Now she’s Little Grump Truck, and the exceedingly poor advice from her co-workers (“Ignore it. You’ll be fine”; “Shake it off!”) pushes her too far. After Little Grump Truck unloads (figuratively and literally) on her colleagues, everyone else has the “grumpies” too. It isn’t until she closes her eyes and focuses that Little Dump Truck is able to clear her mind and lighten her mood. Apologies are in order, and soon everything is humming (for the time being, anyway). Though the narrative doesn’t drill the message home, both child and adult readers alike will hopefully pick up on the fact that pithy aphorisms are maddeningly unhelpful when one is in a bad mood. Gray skies accompany the dump truck’s mood, which is depicted as an ever morphing agglomeration of hard, black scribbles. The accompanying art serves its purpose, investing its trucks with personality via time-honored headlight, windshield-wiper, and grille facial features. Little Dump Truck has a purple cab and green bed and a single lash on each headlight eye. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Should appeal to all the little grump trucks hauling their feelings about. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30081-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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