This may not send wee ones to the Land of Nod, but it will spark their imaginations and tickle their funny bones.

SHEEP 101

Counting sheep has never been such a cooperative effort!

A little black child lies in bed on the endpapers staring at a sheep-shaped clock. A puffy, stuffed sheep rests at the end of the bed. The child is counting sheep. As the book begins, Sheep 99 and Sheep 100 sail over the fence, but Sheep 101 (the stuffed toy) becomes stuck midjump. Sheep 102 tries to help, but the child narrator tells it sheep aren’t supposed to talk. As Sheep 101 continues to struggle, along comes a cow (the one that jumped over the moon); she says they’re out of sheep and she’s Sheep 103. The fifth little piggy is Sheep 104. One of the three blind mice is Sheep 105. Sheep 102 returns and calls in Sandman, a Lego rescue copter…only to find that Sheep 101 (and the child) are fast asleep. Morris’ charmer of a bedtime tale is told mostly in speech balloons with occasional text interjection from the counting child, who is depicted only on the endpapers. Pham’s digitally finished crayon-and-pencil cartoon illustrations, all full-bleed, are full of foolish-looking farm animals who routinely break the fourth wall and address the counting child (and the audience). Cheeky characters, onomatopoeia, and plenty of goofy action will keep the pages turning and force rereads.

This may not send wee ones to the Land of Nod, but it will spark their imaginations and tickle their funny bones. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-21359-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

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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