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Despite quibbles, it’s a charmer

Barefoot but otherwise clothed critters have a full day, collecting friends along the way.

A gray fox girl enjoys a bit of time by herself. “A quiet day reading is perfect for one. / Books take you everywhere under the sun. / But when the story is over you might start to feel blue / And realize your day would be better with… // Two!” Two friends are perfect for making pancakes, but after a yummy breakfast, playing outside is more fun with three than two. Four is a great number of buddies for getting chores done swiftly, and so on. One critter of a different species (including a triceratops) is added to the ever more diverse troupe of friends for each new task or event…until they head home with 12: “As the forest grows dark we head home for the night, / Led by our friend with good evening eyesight. / The stories are spooky and darkness is near / But with us twelve together, there’s nothing to fear.” And the gray fox beds down alone, one again. White’s follow-up to Adventures with Barefoot Critters (2014) is a charming cumulative counting tale, though the verse occasionally strains for rhyme and scansion. Both boys and girls are represented (distinguished by such stereotypical visual clues as attire and presence or absence of eyelashes) in the pastel-hued watercolor illustrations.

Despite quibbles, it’s a charmer . (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-10191-771-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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...

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. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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