Thanks to its gentle inconsistencies, this is a book that can expand children’s thought processes.

STACK THE CATS

Counting from one to 10 is the usual math activity in simple picture books, but this one takes on other mathematical operations, too.

The rhythmic text starts simply: “One cat sleeps. // Two cats play. // Three cats? / STACK! // Four cats teeter. / Five cats totter.” The pattern then changes. In a double-page spread, the text reads: “Six cats prefer / two stacks of three cats.” The picture clearly shows the two stacks of cats, an unnumbered ruler on the left, and a matching dotted line to the right to show the equal height of the stacks to allow for balancing. A similar page is shown for nine: “Nine cats agree / to three, three, and three.” Here numerals are shown for the only time, in a number sentence, but the measuring devices don’t appear. When it comes to 10, the author/illustrator sends some cats to hide and some to seek, encouraging discussion about subtraction, and then opens the question: “How will you stack the cats?” Here an adult could help an inquisitive child pursue the concepts of multiplication and division, hinted at earlier. The simple but elegant cats, mostly in shades of golden-yellow, orange, white, and black, with some marmalade tigers, are boldly set against aqua-blue and deep-orange backgrounds.

Thanks to its gentle inconsistencies, this is a book that can expand children’s thought processes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2349-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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