An engaging, cheerfully illustrated story with a classic moral.

Loukoumi And The Schoolyard Bully

In the sixth installment of Katsori’s (Loukoumi’s Cookbook, 2011, etc.) children’s book series, Loukoumi the lamb responds to a bully by following the golden rule.

Loukoumi is excited to tell her animal friends at school that her parents are expecting a new baby lamb. Her excitement is spoiled, however, when an alligator named Igor, the schoolyard bully, interrupts to mock Loukoumi’s unique name (which means “sweet” in Greek), and she’s hurt and confounded by his cruel words and actions. Fortunately, her crew of animal friends consoles her with wise words. They discuss the value of celebrating differences and individuality. Her monkey friend, Marika, explains that kindness and acceptance of others should prevail over cruelty and bullying. Throughout the day, Loukoumi follows her friends’ advice, showing Igor forgiving kindness and respect; for example, when Igor’s pencil breaks, Loukoumi happily lends him one of hers, despite Igor’s prior cruelty. Igor is surprised and positively affected by her unwavering friendliness. The book provides young readers with an example of how bullying may be overcome not with retaliation, but with kind consideration. Bright, colorful illustrations lend the book an engaging cartoon aesthetic. However, the resolution of Loukoumi’s bullying problem may seem too quick and easy, as Igor quickly transforms into an ally after just a few acts of kindness. However, the overarching theme of the story, the golden rule, is one which may be useful for young readers. The book’s accessible text and illustrations make this a good choice for beginning readers. It also comes with an audio version of the story, animatedly narrated by Nia Vardalos, writer and star of the 2002 film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, with Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman as the voice of Igor.

An engaging, cheerfully illustrated story with a classic moral.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-0984161034

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NK Publications/Dream Day Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2014

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Wonderful, indeed

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THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE

A GROWING-UP POEM

A love song to baby with delightful illustrations to boot.

Sweet but not saccharine and singsong but not forced, Martin’s text is one that will invite rereadings as it affirms parental wishes for children while admirably keeping child readers at its heart. The lines that read “This is the first time / There’s ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do” capture the essence of the picture book and are accompanied by a diverse group of babies and toddlers clad in downright adorable outfits. Other spreads include older kids, too, and pictures expand on the open text to visually interpret the myriad possibilities and hopes for the depicted children. For example, a spread reading “Will you learn how to fly / To find the best view?” shows a bespectacled, school-aged girl on a swing soaring through an empty white background. This is just one spread in which Martin’s fearless embrace of the white of the page serves her well. Throughout the book, she maintains a keen balance of layout choices, and surprising details—zebras on the wallpaper behind a father cradling his child, a rock-’n’-roll band of mice paralleling the children’s own band called “The Missing Teeth”—add visual interest and gentle humor. An ideal title for the baby-shower gift bag and for any nursery bookshelf or lap-sit storytime.

Wonderful, indeed . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37671-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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