“Veterinary misadventure” doesn’t normally pair with “rollicking read-aloud,” but here it does.

READ REVIEW

DR. POTTS, MY PETS HAVE SPOTS!

When Mr. Betts brings all his pets to the vet for a cure for spots, it takes several attempts and choices of medicine to finally produce a satisfying result.

Proving medicine’s inexact science, Dr. Potts, a white vet with a black vet tech, tries her best through trial and error to find a solution. The green potion removes the spots only to bring out stripes; the blue medicine removes stripes but produces beards; the yellow stuff eliminates beards but leaves the animals crying. “A crying fish, a crying cat, a sobbing snake, a sobbing rat, / A weeping rabbit, a weeping frog, a wailing canary, a wailing dog.” Each new attempt inspires curiosity as to what will happen next, and sure enough the red tincture stops the weeping but leaves Mr. Betts mystified as his animals have now “SHRUNK IN SIZE!” and are now a “very small fish, a very small cat, a little snake, a little rat, / A minute rabbit, a minute frog, a tiny canary, a tiny dog.” The rhyming text moves the humorous narrative forward, announcing each new development with a cumulative pattern offering a variety of synonyms in the refrain. Cartoon illustrations in acrylic and collage of a brown-skinned family bring out both exasperation at the hopelessness of the vet and sympathy for all involved. How to cure smallness? Mr. Betts is instructed to just feed his creatures, who indeed grow healthy. Couple this with Jules Feiffer’s Bark, George (1999).

“Veterinary misadventure” doesn’t normally pair with “rollicking read-aloud,” but here it does. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78285-324-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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