All aboard for a great storytime pick.

FOLLOW THE TRACK ALL THE WAY BACK

Little Train follows Mommy and Daddy Train’s advice to return safely after his first solo journey.

There’s a vintage feeling to the digitally manipulated pastel illustrations that would make Little Train and his family seem right at home alongside Hardie Gramatky’s Little Toot and Watty Piper’s Little Engine That Could. The story, too, has a classic feel to it, as Little Train’s journey follows a home-away-home plotline. When he sets off from the train shed alone for the first time, Mommy and Daddy Train offer encouragement and the titular advice that he “follow the track all the way back” in order to return home after his journey. He’s a bit too excited to let their words sink in at first, and he’s soon caught up in enjoying a field he passes through, crossing a bridge, climbing a mountain, and rolling by a river. The palette darkens considerably when Little Train reaches the end of the track and stares out to sea. Rain begins to fall, and Little Train must think back to his parents’ advice. He quickly recalls their words, and then retraces his journey home (with a little help from a mouse who operates the railroad switch), proceeding backward through scenes now bathed in moon- and starlight. As promised, Mommy and Daddy Train are awaiting his return, and his success makes Little Train determined to seek out “even BIGGER adventures” the next day.

All aboard for a great storytime pick. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9573-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

PERFECTLY NORMAN

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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