This humorous tale may become a dog lover’s favorite.

LET'S SWAP FOR A DAY

A child and pet enjoy trading lives for a day, until nature calls and accommodations are needed.

Alphie, a human child with pale skin and black hair, and Nini, a brown dog with pointed ears, are best friends. Sometimes, they “are jealous of each other’s life,” so one day they decide to swap. The morning goes well, with Alphie sleeping ’til noon in Nini’s dog bed and Nini attending school. The afternoon is fun; Alphie swims, plays Frisbee, and hides Daddy’s toupee while Nini listens to the teacher, makes art, and plays with (human) classmates. When it’s time to eat, though, the fun slows down; Alphie doesn’t like the taste of Nini’s bones, and Nini refuses Alphie’s vegetables. But they don’t give up until they really can’t go—the grass is no match for a bathroom, and vice versa. Liao’s brightly colored illustrations crackle with movement, child-friendly energy, and expression. The loose, casual application of paint matches the text’s breezy authority. The fact that the other characters aren’t fazed by a dog in school and at the table only adds to the hilarity of the swap. This perfectly paced, funny read uses only a touch of potty humor to cap off a sweet story of friendship, curiosity, and indulgence, ending with gratitude for something many of us take for granted. Caregivers won’t mind children rereading this silly book.

This humorous tale may become a dog lover’s favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6819-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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