A funny, delightful argument both for and against a hermitic life.

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BRUCE'S BIG MOVE

Mother Bruce wants to escape the size—and chaos—of his family.

This crotchety, black-and–dark-indigo bear now fully accepts that the four goslings he accidentally adopted (Mother Bruce, 2015) are his forever children and that, although they’re grown now, they’re not leaving home. They even sleep on top of him. He can’t accept, however, the presence of three mice who once commandeered his house for a hotel (Hotel Bruce, 2016). They’re adults (one has a mustache), but they sleep atop Bruce with the geese; they soak in Bruce’s teacup; they rope the geese into messy games (literally, during one cowboy lasso scene). Direct marching orders fail. Poor, misanthropic Bruce! Higgins conveys sympathy for Bruce (who is both male and a mother, no explanation particularly needed), beset by noise and chaos, without censuring the mice too harshly. Bruce’s idea to move house and leave the mice behind is a failure, naturally. Readers can sympathize with grumpy Bruce while also cheering for the geese, nonverbal but expressive, when their beloved mice siblings return. The illustrations feature deft, fine-lined details and luminous, softly-textured backgrounds. The full-bleed spreads are hilarious, especially one showing everyone in a bubble bath, Bruce scowling, suds overflowing, the geese and mice sporting snorkels and masks.

A funny, delightful argument both for and against a hermitic life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-368-00354-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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