There’s not much new under the sun, or in the sea, but a bouncy rhythm—and full-on shouted conclusion—can’t be beat.

ME AND ANNIE MCPHEE

Two curious monkeys think they are alone on an island in the middle of the sea.

The narrating monkey stares through a pair of binoculars and begins the repeating refrain: “In the middle of the sea, / as far as the eye could see, / there was nothing to see / but sea.” Quite full for a deserted spot, the tiny island the monkeys are stranded on has a volcano, a cave, boulders, and three coconut trees. With each page turn, however, animals start to emerge from the crevasses, so the narrator needs to adjust the ever expanding, cumulative verse. Suddenly there are also “two wee dogs who thought they were frogs” and “three perky pigs all wearing wigs.” From one to 10, more and more animals come, painted with exuberant anthropomorphism by Hillenbrand (the punk-tressed pigs in grass skirts are a special treat). He plants cues in his mottled, digital spreads to help observant readers predict what creature may come next. Annie McPhee (the narrator’s original monkey pal) grows increasingly worried as the crowd expands. By the time “ten rascally rats skipping in hats” come prancing by, poor Annie McPhee has had enough. A certain spout on the cover (and dedication page) hints at the monkeys’ escape plan.

There’s not much new under the sun, or in the sea, but a bouncy rhythm—and full-on shouted conclusion—can’t be beat. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16808-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

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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