Ohi’s toys keep getting more real with every outing—what new problem will they tackle next? (Picture book. 1-5)

CHICKEN, PIG, COW'S FIRST FIGHT

The trio of best friends is back (Chicken, Pig, Cow on the Move, 2011), but this time the problem they solve is of their own making.

All three toys are impressed with the block city Girl has made, but Chicken declares it perfect only after he adds a chicken statue crafted from yellow leaves and red flowers. Meanwhile, Pig just can’t contain his enthusiasm. Predictably, his zip-zooming wrecks Chicken’s chicken. After the I-told-you-so’s and Pig’s failed attempt to repair the statue, a teary-eyed Pig runs off and gets out his manic energy in a few acts of derring-do that lead to the destruction of something much larger than a statue. Convinced of his innate badness, Pig hides under the couch. In the meantime, Chicken and Cow devise a way to keep Dog (who is real) from getting the blame. Pig’s eventual apology and request to help rebuild the statue are heartfelt, and his friends reassure him that he is not bad: “You’re a good friend who was in a bad, mad mood.” While this may be true of Pig’s destruction of the city, adults may need to address Pig’s initial poor decision to run around. Short sentences and simple vocabulary make this accessible for early readers. Ohi’s watercolors are as endearing as ever, watercolor strokes conveying the characters’ every emotion.

Ohi’s toys keep getting more real with every outing—what new problem will they tackle next? (Picture book. 1-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55451-370-3

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A joyful celebration.

FAMILIES BELONG

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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