A sweet suburban/rural contrast to the snowy day enjoyed by Peter in the city.

A brother and sister venture outside on a snowy day for some playtime with the neighborhood children.

“Perky faces. / Scrambling feet. // Snowflakes falling! / What a treat!” With nary an adult to be seen, the relationship between the older brother and his little sister takes on a nurturing feel as he helps her with her mittens and, once back inside, shares hot chocolate and a book. Outside, though, the group of neighborhood kids intermixes in their various activities. The boys and girls have a snowball fight, make snow angels, play in an igloo, and sled. They are a diverse bunch: three white children, a child with East Asian features, a child with beige skin, the brown-skinned sibling pair, and their brown-and-white floppy-eared hound. Short sentences and spot-on rhythms give the outdoor adventure a bouncy excitement; toward the end, these same characteristics combine with somnolent words and phrases to calm readers in readiness for sleep: “Creamy chocolate—warm, not cold. // Peaceful twilight. Stories told.” Shipman’s illustrations feature the children’s bright snow gear against a light blue and white snowy backdrop, the outdoor scenes wonderfully speckled with the still-falling snow.

A sweet suburban/rural contrast to the snowy day enjoyed by Peter in the city. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-2440-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018


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. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014


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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