An engaging, prismatic kids’ book.

SEYMOUR SIMON'S COLORS IN NATURE

A picture book that takes a vivid look at the colors that surround us.

People take colors for granted. After all, how often does one stop to observe a finely shaded sunset, or the deep, juicy red hue of a perfectly plump tomato? This gorgeously written children’s book explores the colors of the world by detailing flora and fauna of every shade of the rainbow (as well as the rainbow itself). Bold images exemplify each color, from red foxes to lavender amethysts. The book also covers hues that may be difficult to see (such as white wolves against snow), and colors that blend together (such as the blush pink of a flamingo). Readers also learn about instances in which nature changes colors, as when leaves turn from green to red and brown in the autumn chill, or when the sky turns from blue to gray when a storm approaches. Simon’s (Earth’s Moon, 2014, etc.) and Nealon’s book doesn’t disappoint. It’s not an easy task to craft a children’s science book that’s comprehensible to younger readers without ever feeling dumbed-down. The authors, though, are masters when it comes to walking this fine line—they know their audience, and they know how to speak to it. They accompany their text with vibrant photos, boasting such images as fiery hot lava spilling over a mountainside; the golden orange markings of a monarch butterfly; the verdant hue of a tall fir tree; and the crisp blue of an iceberg. The authors pepper the tale with questions that add an air of interactivity, encouraging further discussion between parents and children: “Can you spot three indigos? More? / What else will you find when you explore?” These inquiries urge readers young and old to press on, and perhaps venture outdoors for more colorful research of their own. The book’s focus on education may also make it an asset to schools.

An engaging, prismatic kids’ book.

Pub Date: June 8, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 17

Publisher: StarWalk Kids Media

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2014

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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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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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