LITTLE FOX, LOST

While the puffy cover seems to signal “gift shop book” and the rather bland story does not stand out from the crowd, young...

A Québecois import offers a cautionary wintertime tale.

In this pretty book, Mama Fox invites Little Fox out for a walk in the inviting snowy woods, warning him to stay close so that he won’t get lost. Little Fox, however, enchanted with his own game of making “pictures in the snow” with his paw prints, soon becomes discombobulated and lost. The rosy-cheeked Old Owl offers to guide him to Mama, but Little Fox remembers his mother’s admonishing rhyme: “If ever you are lost my child / Don’t let a stranger guide you. / Be still, and I will search the wild / Until I am beside you.” Various cute animals of the forest join in with Little Fox (including Old Owl after a grumble or two), and they sing this rhyme together, until the happy ending when Mama arrives, proud that Little Fox “had done exactly what he should.” Padrón’s cute animals and soft scenes of winter woods, done in muted grays, blues, and earth tones, pair well with the gentle words of this story to reach a satisfying conclusion and a gentle lesson for the very young for whom this story is intended.

While the puffy cover seems to signal “gift shop book” and the rather bland story does not stand out from the crowd, young ones will surely be comforted by the reuniting of Mama and Little Fox. (Picture book. 1-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77278-004-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

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

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. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

FAMILIES BELONG

A joyful celebration.

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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