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Let this car pass by.

An assortment of farm animals joins siblings for an increasingly crowded car ride.

Max and Molly complain to their mother, who is driving, that they are “squished” and “squashed” in the back seat of their roomy car. Mom knows what to do. She invites Peter Jeeter and his piglet to “wiggle-piggle” in. Max and Molly complain. Mom then invites Dolly Waddle and her ducklings to “flit-feather” in. Max and Molly complain. Mom goes on to invite Inch Pinch and his puppies. Finally, Max and Molly have learned their lesson. They “hush-mush.” Mom drives by Scooter Mooter and his tutu-clad calves and does not invite them in. Family by family, the animals along for the ride get out. Quiet reigns, and all is well in the “gracious-spacious” automobile. It is a tale replete with rhymes and wordplay that tips over into preciosity and grows silly and tiresome. The animal sounds are the usual ones, but hand-lettered over the illustrations, they feel like an afterthought and do not integrate neatly into a read-aloud. Stories with growing crowds of animals abound—think of the delightful Mr. Gumpy’s Outing—but this one, unfortunately, adds little new to the mix. Delicately penciled and colored cartoons are amusing; in them, the human family appears interracial. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 33.6% of actual size.)

Let this car pass by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-51683-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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From the How To Catch… series

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series.

Another creature is on the loose.

The long-running series continues its successful formula with this Hallmark card of a book, which features bright illustrations and catchy rhymes. This time, the mythical creature the racially diverse children set out to catch is an absent mom who does it all (lists of descriptors include the words banker, caregiver, nurse, doctor, driver, chef, housekeeper, teacher, entertainer, playmate, laundry service, problem solver, handywoman, cleaner, and alarm clock) but doesn’t seem to have a job outside the home and is inexplicably a dinosaur. As the children prepare gifts and a meal for her, the text becomes an ode to the skills the Mamasaurus possesses (“Day or night she’s always there. / She meets every wish and need”) and values she instills (“Sometimes life can mean hard work,” “kindness matters,” and “what counts is doing your best”). This well-intentioned selection veers into cliche generously sprinkled with saccharine but manages to redeem itself with its appreciation for mothers and all that they may do. Endpapers include a “to” and “from” page framed in a heart, as well as a page where young gift givers or recipients can draw a picture of their Mamasaurus.

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781728274300

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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