LITTLE SCOOT

Neither waves nor rain stays this stalwart tugboat from her duties.

The skies are cloudy when Little Scoot receives word that Big Barge has gotten stuck and needs her help. Wary of the weather, she nonetheless toots and scoots toward the ship and into the approaching storm. Though battered by waves and blown by the wind, she is nonetheless able at last to reach Big Barge. It takes all her strength, but soon she’s pulled him “out of sand, out of muck,” and to the harbor. Similar in name to Hardie Gramatky’s Little Toot and having the same job, Little Scoot, alas, lacks much of the charm of her predecessor. Anemic rhymes discuss the “stormiest storms” and “windy winds” while the story covers ground well trod by another classic, The Little Engine That Could, long ago. Little Scoot’s unsubtly cartoony face seems oddly matched with the sometimes lovely backgrounds and set scenes. There are times too when the text is at outright odds with the art, as when readers are told that Little Scoot offers Big Barge a whistle of goodbye only to see her clearly yelling it out in the accompanying picture. Young harbor fans will find little worth tooting about in this book even if they haven’t seen it all before. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 25.9% of actual size.)

Scoot on by. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63592-300-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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 wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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