An engaging observance of a Māori holiday.


A kiwi reports exciting news.

Little Kiwi awakens, shouts, “It’s coming!” and hurries to share thrilling news. She rouses her sleepy animal pals, urging them to join her in pursuit. Each friend explains that Little Kiwi’s sense that something momentous is imminent is misguided, but, failing to persuade Kiwi to return to her bed, each gets up and follows her. Their final destination is the beach, where they wait until…they witness the Pleiades, the star cluster that, Little Kiwi explains, means the Māori New Year has arrived. Acknowledging the occasion, each friend indulges in the holiday’s special customs: eating, enjoying family time, singing, and playing. This sweet New Zealand import nicely captures the anticipation preceding the celebration in that country, which occurs “around May or June” according to backmatter. Children will enjoy learning about the festival and comparing it to other New Year celebrations. They’ll also appreciate the “sky is falling” vibe inherent in the animals’ humorous chase. The flightless, nocturnal kiwi is native to New Zealand; her wide-eyed buddies’ names are, like hers, Māori, but readers not in the know will have to do a bit of outside research to discover that. The crisp, stylized illustrations are energetic, and the palette of browns, blue, yellows, grays, and white and black highlight the nighttime escapade. Characters’ names, sound words, and other important words are emphasized in larger fonts.

An engaging observance of a Māori holiday. (star chart) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-76036-094-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.


Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.


A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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