A warm, cozy counterpoint to Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman’s Bear Snores On (2002) but without the “Again! Again!”...

WIDE-AWAKE BEAR

While all bears grow heavy-eyed in the winter, some little cubs—like some little humans—are too anxious to sleep.

Elliott can’t quite catch a wink when his mother bear tells him it’s time to nap until spring. He misses the season too much—and he’s impatient for it to come. He tries again and again to lull himself to sleep (changing his position, fluffing the bark strips, plumping up his pine-needle pillow), but nothing works. He is “Still. Wide. Awake”—a pleasing refrain. When he starts seeing scary shadows, Elliott turns to his mother for comfort. She instructs him to look closer to see the signs of spring. Sure enough, Elliott sees a “brave bud” growing in the snow, and he decides that if spring is asleep, he may as well sleep too. The refrain, poetic imagery, and well-paced sentences make this a smooth read-aloud. Yet it’s a bit too text-heavy—explaining too much at times when the art could do the heavy lifting. Kim’s soft, digitally colored graphite pencil illustrations evoke the comfort of the winter cave. The endpapers, featuring slice-of-life depictions of fall and spring, are a fitting frame.

A warm, cozy counterpoint to Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman’s Bear Snores On (2002) but without the “Again! Again!” readability. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-235603-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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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