These driverless vehicles aren’t quite road ready



From the Whizzy Wheels Academy series

Another series of board books about trucks hopes to find an audience in a crowded marketplace.

The premise is simple—chunky, rather generic-looking vehicles attend Whizzy Wheels Academy to learn driving skills from their instructor, Rusty, a yellow pickup truck. Like the other vehicles in the class, red tractor Tess sports a smile between her headlights. Rusty has a mustache (maybe to make him look older?). All the trucks have large eyeballs in their windshields—Tess’ are lashed—but no drivers in sight. Tess thinks she already knows everything a tractor needs to know. She wants to go “faster.” She gets stuck in the mud and must be rescued by Rusty and Lenny the loader. This turn of events comes across as more than a bit sexist since Tess is the only female in the truck fleet (or at least the only one with eyelashes). In contrast, Fergus the Fire Engine, publishing simultaneously, gets a gold star from Rusty for rescuing a man from a burning building and putting out the fire, all without help from a firefighter. With two to eight lines of text per page, complicated storylines, and blatant character-education messages, these stories are not ideally suited for very young children and should be regarded as an additional purchase at best for older children desperate for new books about trucks.

These driverless vehicles aren’t quite road ready . (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78603-310-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: QEB Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.


A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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From the predictable text to the just-right surprise ending, there’s plenty here to entice toddler readers.


From the Little Snail series

A class of cheery animals leave school with their caregivers, minus Little Snail, who carries a secret on their back.

School’s out, and this class is ready to go! This agreeable Chinese import follows a satisfyingly predictable pattern: First there is a double-page spread of a different animal saying farewell to Little Snail, followed by a spread describing the way the critter gets home. Within its succinct pattern there’s a large variety of transportation options, from biking to public transit to car, meaning that most toddlers will relate to at least one of the methods. Additionally, not all the adults picking up youngsters are identified by relationship, allowing space for various child care arrangements. Once all the other animals have gone, there’s a mysterious, dark-green spread with only a giant “Whoosh!” on it—and the turn of the page reveals Little Snail inside their shell. Surprise! “Little Snail is always the first to get home!” Bold, matte prints infuse the cartoon-style animals with personality, from a speckled bear running for the bus and a frolicking pig with movement lines and braids askew to the low, solid-looking snail. A limited palette of rust, forest green, and mustard yellow creates just enough contrast within the distinctive animal prints. Occasionally, the eyes are oddly placed, veering toward cubism, but most retain a childlike charm.

From the predictable text to the just-right surprise ending, there’s plenty here to entice toddler readers. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-8358-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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