Firefighter-loving kids will jump over candlesticks to get their hands on these cute and capable emergency workers.

MOTHER GOOSE TO THE RESCUE!

When there’s a fire to be tackled, only a qualified nursery-rhyme crew will do!

Pink-coiffed Mother Goose may look demure when reading in her House of Rhyme, but when there is danger, she springs into action! The Queen of Tarts is facing a bakery fire, so it’s up to the famous fowl and her crew of multiracial nursery-rhyme characters to put it out. After “gear[ing] up in forty seconds flat,” everyone races to the fire. At the blaze, they display a wide array of different firefighting techniques, including the use of water cannons, a fire ax, dirt, a bucket brigade, and helicopters with bucket scoops (loaded with jam). The familiar stars of everyone’s favorite rhymes pair nicely with this technical know-how of equipment and expertise. Chief M. Goose herself commands from a “high-tech rig” tricked out with radios and a satellite. Rhymes scan consistently, and female-presenting characters are given just as much agency as their male-presenting counterparts. Insider nursery-rhyme jokes also abound. For example, the last readers see of the heroic squad, they’re heading off to answer an emergency call from Ladybug. One might quibble about the fact that dumping jam on a fire would almost certainly intensify it, but in the end the book’s having too much fun to care. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22% of actual size.)

Firefighter-loving kids will jump over candlesticks to get their hands on these cute and capable emergency workers. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-09357-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A satisfying friendship story to share with very young children in the days leading up to Halloween.

TEENY TINY GHOST

This board book twists the traditional “Teeny Tiny” tale into a less-scary Halloween treat.

This version uses a singsong-y rhythm and cadence to tell the story. “In the teeny tiny barn / Of a teeny tiny house... / Lived a teeny tiny ghost / and a teeny tiny mouse.” Of course the ghost (being teeny tiny) is not very frightening. “But the determined little ghost / Let her mighty courage through / And with a teeny tiny breath / She said a teeny tiny: boo.” Spoiler alert: After just seven page turns the ghost and mouse become friends: “And now the teeny tinies play / In the teeny tiny house. / Just a teeny tiny ghost / And her best friend, mouse.” Pumpkins decorate the cover and final spread and illustrations throughout are in autumnal hues. The fairly high-for-the-format word count—19 to 21 words per page—may be more than toddlers will sit still for, but the “teeny tiny” repetition and rhymes will help. The size (just 6 inches square) makes using the book with a group a challenge, but with a lap-sitting child, it’ll be a pleasure.

A satisfying friendship story to share with very young children in the days leading up to Halloween. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31848-7

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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While thar be precious little piracy visible in this, its feminist themes are strong.

HOW TO BE A PIRATE

Feminism for the piratically inclined.

Fitzgerald and Barrager give the old chestnut of a girl who’s turned away from a boys’ fort due to her gender alone a piratical twist. After CeCe’s initial disappointment, she vows to get advice from the only true pirate she knows: her grandfather. Game to give his granddaughter a 101 in how to be the best possible scurvy dog, he uses each of his tattoos to extol a virtue such as bravery or speed. As in Alison McGhee and Eliza Wheeler’s Tell Me a Tattoo Story (2016), body art becomes the inspiration for any number of adventures and aphorisms, ending with the most important lesson: love. Readers may note that few of these flights of fancy have much to do with pirates specifically. Nevertheless, an emboldened CeCe returns to the boys and successfully owns her piratude. The ending is more than a bit optimistic, as CeCe gains admission simply by redeclaring intentions with a smidgen more chutzpah. Would that misogyny always rolled over so easily. Happily, Fitzgerald’s tale is accompanied by the rollicking vibrancy of Barrager’s art. Reality pales (literally) in the face of the imagination, with a clever tonal shift to a brighter, more saturated palette indicating CeCe’s determination. CeCe and Grandpa both present white; the boys who initially snub her display a range of skin colors and hair textures.

While thar be precious little piracy visible in this, its feminist themes are strong. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68119-778-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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