Why settle for ordinary? Ride a “chicken bus” in Guatemala! (Picture book/song. 3-6)

READ REVIEW

THE WHEELS ON THE BUS

The familiar song gets a new setting in this trip to a Guatemalan market.

The green and orange bus, roof piled high with baskets and bowls, bags and chickens, leaves the village just as the sun is coming up: “The bus starts up with a rumble and crunch. / The driver calls out, ‘We’ll be there by lunch.’ / The bus starts up with a rumble and a crunch / On the journey to the town.” The wheels go round over dusty ground, the children shout and play along the way, the papis stand up to sing and hum and bang a drum, and the babies cry bouncing low and high, until suddenly, “BANG!” A granny is there to calm the children, the mamis find a spare, and the people all lift the bus. Backmatter includes some facts about Guatemala and the first verse and music to the song. While the lines of the song do not strictly repeat, the bright illustrations may prompt repeat readings, and children will catch on to the lines that vary. Ochre and tropical shades of blue, green and yellow fill the full-bleed illustrations with color, energy and vibrant patterns, as befits the Central American setting. Happy people share the bus’s interior with polka-dot chickens, the women all wear long skirts, the men sport hats, and donkeys and goats dot the countryside.

Why settle for ordinary? Ride a “chicken bus” in Guatemala! (Picture book/song. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-84686-787-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

LITTLE RED SLEIGH

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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