Another creative blending of real-life oceanography and gentle fantasy in a smart and entertaining series.

KOBEE MANATEE

SHIPWRECK SEA FRIENDS

In this latest installment of a science- and nature-based picture book series for young children, a curious manatee journeys with old and new aquatic friends to the site of a sunken ship.

Fresh from an eventful, hurricane-tossed swim from Key West, Florida, to the Bahamas, Kobee Manatee heads out for another undersea adventure in this third volume that continues the informative series by author Thayer (Kobee Manatee: A Wild Weather Adventure, 2015, etc.) and illustrator Gallegos (Ernie’s Wish Tail, 2016, etc.). Accompanied by his pals Pablo, a hermit crab, and Tess, a sea horse, Kobee sets out for San Juan, Puerto Rico, in search of the wreckage of the SS Antonio López, a real-life, 19th-century ship sunk during the Spanish-American War. (Its description is one of “Kobee’s Fun Facts,” tidbits that are set apart from the story’s text and highlighted throughout the book’s colorful pages.) On the way to the ship, the band is joined by a lonely octopus named Ben. When Kobee is trapped by a beam while swimming through the wreck, Ben and new friends Alis, a playful goldentail moray eel, and Sandy, a nurse shark, try to help; the arrival of an old friend, Chester, a giant plankton-eating whale shark, saves the day. As with the first two books, the full-page images of ocean flora and fauna and the exaggerated features of Kobee and friends engage the eye in a rich palette of acrylic colors, and the “Fun Facts” scrolls offer depth without denying the young audience a lively story. Most of the well-conceived morsels of information here, again contributed by oceanographer and documentarian Fabien Cousteau, identify species of fish. They include some that children might recognize—lionfish, sawfish, parrot fish—and others likely to be new to them. Among the unfamiliar denizens of the deep: a damselfish, peppermint basslet, spotted eagle ray, and blue-striped grunts, which Tess describes as looking “like lemons with blue lines swimming.” A link to Cousteau’s Ocean Learning Center is included for any reader interested in further exploration. 

Another creative blending of real-life oceanography and gentle fantasy in a smart and entertaining series.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9971239-3-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thompson Mill Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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A pleasant holiday spent with a perfectly charming character.

SPOOKY POOKIE

One of Boynton's signature characters celebrates Halloween.

It's Halloween time, and Pookie the pig is delighted. Mom helps the little porker pick out the perfect Halloween costume, a process that spans the entire board book. Using an abcb rhyme scheme, Boynton dresses Pookie in a series of cheerful costumes, including a dragon, a bunny, and even a caped superhero. Pookie eventually settles on the holiday classic, a ghost, by way of a bedsheet. Boynton sprinkles in amusing asides to her stanzas as Pookie offers costume commentary ("It's itchy"; "It's hot"; "I feel silly"). Little readers will enjoy the notion of transforming themselves with their own Halloween costumes while reading this book, and a few parents may get some ideas as well. Boynton's clean, sharp illustrations are as good as ever. This is Pookie's first holiday title, but readers will surely welcome more.

A pleasant holiday spent with a perfectly charming character. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-51233-5

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Robin Corey/Random

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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