Entertaining and visually appealing but not particularly original.

THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF

THE FULL STORY

A retelling of the famous Norwegian fairy tale “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.”

The “famous” Brothers Gruff are Big Billy Goat, Middle Billy Goat, and Little Billy Goat. They are famous, the text explains, because of a “loudmouth bully boy” who lives under a mountain bridge, the ugly and fearsome Troll. The Gruff brothers, having eaten all the grass on their side of the mountain, realize that the grass is literally greener on the other side and make their way across the bridge, escaping—or, in the case of Big Billy Goat, head butting—the very hungry Troll. Despite the subtitle promising “The Full Story,” this rendition does not stray far from the original. In fact, some of the only differences between this picture book and the traditionally told fairy tale are the presence of the Gruff brothers’ cousins, to whom they retell the story of how they overcame the troll under the bridge, and the way the text embellishes the familiar showdowns between Gruffs and Troll. The traditional repetition of the “trip-trap” of the goats’ hooves is retained, giving children opportunities to participate, and Tillotson’s bright and cheerful illustrations, which paint Troll as a red, snaggletoothed, horned creature, are certain to be appealing to a young audience. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.8-by-17.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Entertaining and visually appealing but not particularly original. (Picture book/folktale. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1573-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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