Smart, witty text matched by fine design and illustrations make this kids’ book a tasty, offbeat treat.

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A DOG NAMED ZERO AND THE APPLE WITH NO NAME

An entertaining, original take on counting from children’s book author and illustrator Bartlett (Tuba Lessons, 2009).

This counting lesson quirkily begins with “a Dog named Zero who lived in Hawaii for almost twenty years—but doesn’t live there anymore” and a nameless, “juicy red Apple” hanging tantalizingly high on a very tall tree. Little Zero, it seems, has a hankering for the yummy fruit, but how to reach it? On each succeeding page of this cumulative, giggle-inducing tale, assorted creatures (whose names happen to be One through Ten) arrive and offer to help Zero ascend high enough to pluck the apple by stacking themselves on top of one another. They raise the hungry dog higher and higher until success is in reach, and then, “out of the deep blue sky, a Bee named Charlie buzzed by…in the worst mood ever,” with predictable, tumble-down results. Never fear; the book ends happily for all (although the apple and bee might disagree); the apple, by unanimous consent, finally receives a very apt name. Bartlett’s humorous text, colorful pencil drawings and complementary book design propel this adventure forward with delightful silliness. The helpful, big-eyed creatures range from the ordinary (“A Chicken named One and a Pig named Two”) to the unexpected (“an Inch Worm named Ten…the strongest worm in the observable universe”). Another plus is the book’s smart use of vocabulary and clever wordplay; for example, a cow named Five and a bull named Six ask Zero, “If you can’t count on us, then moo can you count on?” Overall, this exercise in counting is a downright charmer.

Smart, witty text matched by fine design and illustrations make this kids’ book a tasty, offbeat treat.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Over the Edge Studios

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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