SO FAR UP

With its enjoyable read-aloud rhythm and animal antics, this board book “takes the cake!” (Board book. 1-4)

In this pleasing cumulative tale, a cake waits atop a tall tower, and a group of animals collaborates to reach the sweet treat.

Bear spots the tempting dessert, but how to reach it? Pig’s arrival presents a solution, and page by page, a series of hungry animals arrives to stack themselves higher. The surprising ending in which a child takes the cake from inside the tower feels a tad anticlimactic—those animals went through all those contortions for nothing? However, since the child shares with the group, it’s a tasty-enough conclusion. While the repetitive refrain that laments that “the cake is so far up” and the animals “so far down” has a gentle appeal, the playful onomatopoeias that introduce each new animal arrival—“FLIP FLIP FLAP”; “BOINGA-BOING”—are more rambunctious and highly satisfying to read aloud. Thinly lined, digitally rendered illustrations and matte colors are somewhat flat but do emphasize the animals’ silly poses and looks of concentration, and a tall, narrow trim size complements the theme. Strasser’s choice to group the animals and tower on the right page while isolating the next animal to arrive on the left encourages pre-readers to make predictions and read along. Observant toddlers will delight in watching a crow inch across a clothesline to triumphantly grab the cake’s tasty cherry.

With its enjoyable read-aloud rhythm and animal antics, this board book “takes the cake!” (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-848-5

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

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 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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