Kids will want to stick with this one.

I'M STICKING WITH YOU

Real friends hang together no matter what.

Bear and BFF Squirrel are thick as thieves, tight as a drum. Despite superficial differences, such as height, weight, and girth, and the fact that these differences wreak havoc on Squirrel’s belongings—not to mention launching Squirrel skyward while the pair are on a seesaw—Bear swears to follow Squirrel everywhere and to do everything together. That is, until Squirrel decides it’s time for the pair to split up; Squirrel needs to be alone. Being a good friend, Bear agrees, albeit reluctantly, and departs. At first, Squirrel savors the luxury of newfound freedom but then concedes, “I MISS BEAR !” Wouldn’t you know it? Squirrel hurriedly rushes back to beg Bear to reconsider their relationship; all their differences can be resolved. “We’re joined at the heart,” avers Squirrel, “AND I LOVE YOU / A LOT!” The premise of this bouncy rhyming tale isn’t original, but this telling is a sweet, lively charmer nonetheless, and the verses scan well. A story about friends’ unwavering loyalty is always welcome. Readers/listeners will appreciate the sticking-like-glue pairing of these seemingly vastly different pals, in itself commendable. The delightful, expressive illustrations are by turns comical and poignant, and lots of white space and minimal text on each page focuses attention on the protagonists. Occasionally, blue type is set on black backgrounds, heightening visual appeal.

Kids will want to stick with this one. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-61923-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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