At the mountain's summit, young readers will glow with the understanding that roads connect more than places—and the...

WHEREVER YOU GO

A rabbit's cross-country bike excursion introduces the open road, its free-wheeling, giddy freedom, and its role in connecting travelers to an ever changing landscape of new friends and communities.

The rise and fall of recurring rhyme mimics the anticipated twists and turns of a road while explaining what roads do. Miller's verse, infused with musical momentum, communicates the emotional arch of a journey with beautiful brevity: "Clinging to cliffs. / Chasing a cloud. / Reaching the top, / tired but proud." The rabbit’s road coils through an animal kingdom of forests, treehouses, country cottages, bustling seaside villages, glimmering cities and mountain overlooks. The sunshine-hued, delicate artwork embraces both the panoramic vastness of the countryside and the definitive details nestled in its valleys, meadows, towns and treetops. Each double-page spread invites readers to stop and look closely at the lichen hugging the tree, the bending roses, the bouncing musicians, the twinkling carnival, the romantic dinner parties, the ships' many sails, the cactus' sharp needles, the wisps of clouds on a mountain ridge. The rabbit rolls on, picking up buddies and smiling at clusters of congregating critters the whole way. Children, thanks to captivating artwork and rhyme, will want nothing more than to ride his handlebars, bouncing and merry.

At the mountain's summit, young readers will glow with the understanding that roads connect more than places—and the assurance they can retrace this reading journey nightly. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-40002-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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A brassy, assertive fellow—young readers in the middle of their own power struggles will relate.

TOUGH TUG

A tugboat’s size and might are easy to anthropomorphize; add this personified puffer to the mix.

Tough Tug is built near Seattle, made of strong steel welded together and adorned with a fresh coat of bright red paint. Wide googly eyes and a determined smile complete the look. On launch day, Tough Tug triumphantly flashes forward and backward, twirling and swirling through the water. Older tugboats (distinguished variously by mustaches, glasses, and eye patches) grumble at the youngster’s bravado. “Push and pull is what tugs do. Practice THAT.” Tough Tug’s first job is to tow a barge to Alaska. Rhythmic mantras churn across the surface of the water in bold navy letters: “Ready, steady. / Steady, ready. // Chug and tug. / Tug and chug.” But Tough Tug is overeager and challenges Arctic Tug to a race. The thrum changes to “Race and run! / Run and race!” Arctic Tug is first to Sitka, but while crossing the open ocean to Anchorage, the older tug gets into trouble. It’s Tough Tug to the rescue! McClurkan’s digital paintings look quite modern, but there is a feel to his foamy waves that recalls the mid-20th-century harbor of Little Toot. The anthropomorphized boats have plenty of personality, and readers who study the expressions on the container ships will be rewarded. An author’s note explains this was inspired by a true story of one tug rescuing another boat from a competing tugboat company.

A brassy, assertive fellow—young readers in the middle of their own power struggles will relate. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-5098-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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An innocuous telling, sure to slip in effortlessly with other firetruck books.

FLASH, THE LITTLE FIRE ENGINE

A little fire engine discovers what it’s good at by eliminating what it is not.

Who knew disappointment could be such a keen teaching tool? Narrator Flash is eager to demonstrate firefighting prowess, but every attempt to “save the day” yields bubkes. First Flash is too little to handle a fire at the airport (Crash, an airport crash tender, handles that one). Next Flash is too short to help a tall building that’s on fire (that honor goes to Laddie, a turntable ladder). Finally, an airplane and a foam tender together solve a forest-fire problem. Only when a bridge is suddenly blocked by snow, with all the other trucks on the wrong side of it, does Flash have the opportunity to save a pet shelter that’s ablaze. (Readers will note characters in shirtsleeves at the beginning of the book, so this is a very unexpected snowstorm.) Calvert deftly finds a new way to introduce kids to different kinds of firefighting vehicles by setting up Flash in opposition to situations where it’s just not the best truck for the job. The anthropomorphized engines and planes irritatingly include unnecessary eyelashes on trucks with feminine pronouns, but this is mitigated by the fact that the girls get cool names like “Crash” and save the day first. Enthusiastic if unremarkable digital art presents both firefighters and citizens in an array of genders and races.

An innocuous telling, sure to slip in effortlessly with other firetruck books. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4178-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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