The concepts have gone slightly askew, but the book can spark discussion, which just might be the only educational bent...

FIND SPOT!

In a style reminiscent of Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Previn uses die cuts and simple phrasing to explore many different kinds of spots.

It has all the makings of a grand concept book—squat, square trim, bright colors—but it’s a bit unclear on the actual concept it is trying to teach or, in fact, exactly what the “spot” is. The cover may lead children to believe that Spot is a Dalmatian puppy, but within, children will find that “spot” is an omnibus term whose exact meaning is flexible. Many of the “spot” pairs are true opposites: “Spot jumps. / Spot crawls. // Spot flies. / Spot falls” (the “spots” are, respectively, a frog’s spot, ant’s segment, firefly’s light and ladybug’s dot). Some “spots,” like the opening spread that depicts a rooster and an alarm clock (“Spot crows. / Spot wakes”), are similar and not opposite at all. Others, such as a bowling ball and the tires of a car (“Spot rolls. / Spot zooms”), are even more of a stretch. Literal-minded children will go nuts trying to figure out exactly what the “spot” is in each picture. The name of the rooster or its eye? The hole in a tree (“Spot grows”)? If so, is the hole growing or the tree growing? Regardless, the thick, crackled acrylics and heavy brush strokes give incredible texture to each pair. Extreme close-ups and generous swaths of bold colors heighten the exuberance. The playful game of searching for spots just may be enough to carry youngsters through. 

The concepts have gone slightly askew, but the book can spark discussion, which just might be the only educational bent needed. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: June 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-21332-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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