Aside from the spinnable color wheel insert at the end of the book, there is little here to hold the attention of even the...

COLORS

From the First Wheels series

Another contribution to the crowded field of big-truck picture books, with a focus on color.

This offering combines an introduction to colors with depictions of a progression of vehicles, two per double-page spread: “red dump truck / red digger // orange digger / orange roller // yellow roller / yellow bulldozer,” and so on through trucks, cement mixers, cars, and vans, coming full circle back to a red dump truck and a red digger. Pink, white, gray, and black join the basic rainbow colors. The vibrant, paper-collaged illustrations are overlaid on plain, brightly colored, contrasting backgrounds; red painted vehicles appear on yellow and blue pages, yellow on tan, purple on yellow. While the images are clear and skillfully constructed, they appear static, belying their intrinsic quality of motion, and resemble a manufacturer’s catalog rather than a children’s picture book. The concept appears to be one of unadorned simplicity. Apart from a smattering of sea gulls, there are no living creatures, and the vehicle cabs look strangely empty. An opportunity to include some interesting, diverse women and men drivers has surely been missed here. Endpapers show a collection of wheels and a repetition of the truck drawings.

Aside from the spinnable color wheel insert at the end of the book, there is little here to hold the attention of even the most digger-crazy toddler. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-84780-742-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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