LET'S SWAP FOR A DAY

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

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 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

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

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. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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