This surefire hit with construction fans happily bestows some much-needed sympathy on those caregivers wrangling with little...

THREE GRUMPY TRUCKS

Heck hath no fury like a toy whose playtime has been interrupted.

Tarpley offers up another misbehaving toy trio with a kid thrust into the role of parent (Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep!, 2015). On a sunny day, a hard hat–clad child scooters to the playground, taking three toy trucks along. The trucks thoroughly enjoy whirring, grinding, chomping, and more. Three times their child guardian tells them they must leave, and two times they whine to stay longer—pitching an all-out hissy fit the third. Soothed in her arms (in a surprise twist, the child’s construction helmet is removed to reveal a ponytail and the narrative introduces the feminine pronoun), they calm down and are brought home to dream of digging adventures to come. Tarpley keeps the short and rhyming text perky with blessedly perfect scansion. And thanks to the positioning of child as parental figure, kids may find themselves sympathizing with both the temper-tantrum–ers and the temper-tantrum–ee. Pleasant, cartoonish art rendered in watercolors, pastels, and colored pencils give the book a mild jolt of pep.

This surefire hit with construction fans happily bestows some much-needed sympathy on those caregivers wrangling with little “trucks” of their own. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-34122-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.

KINDNESS GROWS

Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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