Odd-couple stories are far from an endangered species, but this one’s worth making room for.

GOOD NIGHT, BAT! GOOD MORNING, SQUIRREL!

Homeless Bat moves in, unannounced, with Squirrel. Can this odd couple live together in peace?

When Bat loses his home, he first tries an attic full of bats, who are too crowded to accept him. The fox, the skunk, and a nest of birds all turn him down as well. And he can’t quite fit under a large mushroom. Then Bat notices a bunch of leaves lodged in a tree, with a small opening. Inside, he finds a cozy place to sleep. (He doesn’t even notice Squirrel sleeping soundly nearby.) When Squirrel wakes up, she’s startled to see a sleeping bat hanging from her ceiling, so fast asleep he can’t be woken. Squirrel leaves a polite note, drawn in pencil on a big brown leaf, before she sets off to hide acorns. Bat’s written answer is equally polite. But, given the nature of their respective sleep cycles, the two don't see each other for days. More notes follow; when Squirrel writes a note telling Bat to leave, Bat responds by adding more “leaves” to the cozy home. It takes a while, but Squirrel finally realizes she wants a friend, and Bat’s happy to be that. Meisel’s plot moves in appealing increments, stressing the importance not only of friendship, but also of courtesy; the epistolary relationship is an added bonus. His rich palette and expressively drawn animals add warmth to an important message.

Odd-couple stories are far from an endangered species, but this one’s worth making room for. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62979-495-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

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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