All in all, clever, bouncy fun.

RACE CAR DREAMS

How does a race car get ready for bed?

After a high-octane day, this anthropomorphic race car is tired and “wringing with sweat.” His headlights blink on, and he drives to the pit for a good bath. In addition to the foamy sudsing, he also washes his rims and shines up his chrome. Now he’s as good as new; baby blue with a thick gold stripe running right down the middle and a big “2” on the doors. It’s also time for an oil change; at the shop, “he guzzles and gulps each dark, oily drop.” Now he’s ready for sleep, but not before a good bedtime story. He chooses Run Cheetah, “a book that’s all about speed.” Resting in a green field studded with trees, he “snuggles his wrench” under one wheel as the moon shines bright. He turns on the heat to warm up his grille. “His engine now hums. He lets out a snore. / His bumpers relax and sprawl on the floor.” Chriscoe’s crisply rhyming text is enlivened by lots of punny expressions and colorful language, and little readers are not likely to be sticklers about things like sweaty cars. Mottram’s artwork is similarly bright and lively, though youngsters will notice that the little car doesn’t seem to have a grille, and the “floor” he sprawls on is grass.

All in all, clever, bouncy fun. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-5964-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain.

THE SOUR CHERRY TREE

With ample emotional subtext, a young girl recalls everyday details about her beloved grandfather the day after his death.

The child bites her mother’s toe to wake her up, wishing that she could have done the same for her baba bozorg, her beloved grandfather, who had forgotten to wake up the day before. She kisses a pancake that reminds her of her grandfather’s face. Her mother, who had been admonishing her for playing with her food, laughs and kisses the pancake’s forehead. Returning to Baba Bozorg’s home, the child sees minute remnants of her grandfather: a crumpled-up tissue, smudgy eyeglasses, and mint wrappers in his coat pockets. From these artifacts the narrator transitions to less tangible, but no less vivid, memories of playing together and looks of love that transcend language barriers. Deeply evocative, Hrab’s narrative captures a child’s understanding of loss with gentle subtlety, and gives space for processing those feelings. Kazemi’s chalk pastel art pairs perfectly with the text and title: Pink cherry hues, smoky grays, and hints of green plants appear throughout the book, concluding in an explosion of vivid green that brings a sense of renewal, joy, and remembrance to the heartfelt ending. Though the story is universally relevant, cultural cues and nods to Iranian culture will resonate strongly with readers of Iranian/Persian heritage. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-414-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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This pair of Spanish friends should find fans in the States. (Picture book. 3-5)

THE SCARY WIND

From the Hedgehog and Rabbit series

Are those swirling leaves…or a monster!?

Rabbit is eating cabbages in the garden while, nearby, Hedgehog searches for snails. A sudden wind comes up, stirring the colorful leaves, causing them to swirl in the air. Frightened, Rabbit screams and hides in a hollow log; Hedgehog follows him to find out what’s wrong. Shivering, Rabbit declares that there’s a big howling monster after them. When leaves blow into their hiding place, both animals panic and flee in opposite directions. After some running, both Rabbit and Hedgehog feel bad for leaving a friend alone with the scary beast and decide to return to help. Rabbit first adopts a disguise, smearing himself with mud and tying two branches onto his head to look like horns. Hedgehog rolls in a pile of colorful leaves and picks up two sticks to look like claws. When the two friends confront each other, they are scared all over again and run away…all over again. The running itself makes the disguises blow away, and before long the friends are reunited, eating in the garden as the wind continues to blow. Storyteller Albo offers straightforwardly simple silliness for the very young, who should love the heightened emotions and the repetition. Gómez makes both Rabbit and Hedgehog highly expressive; most compositions are uncluttered, and tiny details will keep children engaged. Series companion The Stubborn Cloud publishes simultaneously.

This pair of Spanish friends should find fans in the States. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-84-945971-7-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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