A nostalgic, Depression-era nocturne for train lovers.

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NIGHT TRAIN, NIGHT TRAIN

A passenger train travels to the city overnight in this rhyming picture book.

On a wordless opening page, a young rider, seated near their teddy, looks out the window as the train travels in the dark. The train (pulled by a Dreyfuss Hudson steam locomotive) takes off, and then rhythmic words chug along: “Train ride! / Bump-bump. / Chug-chug. Slow. / Faster. Faster. / Off we go.” The following double-page spread introduces the refrain: “Night train, night train, hold-on-tight train.” Burleigh replicates the initial meter on the next page as the rider takes in their surroundings. As with the other verses, the refrain changes slightly along with the scenery. The visual structure—two full-page panels bordered by white followed by a double-page spread—repeats in sync with the rhythm of the text. Together, the words and pictures help this train run smoothly. One by one, isolated colors (black, red, blue, etc.) pop into the night world, highlighted in the color of the type that spells out the color’s name and in some feature in the illustration. Some of the instances of color are quite subtle (for instance, the text’s “big blue window” is actually quite small, as it’s viewed from a distance), but, at the same time, such details add to the value of the nightscape. Minor’s black-and-white graphite illustrations intimately capture the shadows and shapes of the train’s night ride, ending in a beautiful full-color double-page spread as night turns to day and the ride is completed, the child and their mother, both white, alighting on the platform.

A nostalgic, Depression-era nocturne for train lovers. (illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-717-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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