An exciting ride that unfortunately runs out of steam on the last lap.

THE PRINCESS AND THE PIT STOP

A race car–driving princess has something to prove when taking a pit stop leaves her in last place with just one lap to go.

While her capable crew of magical creatures gets her ready, the Princess hears her position and reddens with fiery ambition. She zooms ferociously around the track, leaving a rainbow trail of exhaust in her wake. As a track-announcer frog calls out the pun-laced action, the Princess speeds by her famous opponents, recognizable from fairy tales, children’s classics, and nursery rhymes. This princess is a force to be reckoned with. She’s not afraid of a little rough-and-tumble in the pursuit of victory. After crossing the finish line she celebrates by spinning doughnuts, posing for pictures while covered in grime, and happily accepting an endorsement deal. The full-page illustrations are saturated with color and express the action so vividly readers will nearly hear the roar of the racetrack. The emphasis on the Princess’ racing skill and zeal for her sport is empowering and refreshing, which is what makes the end spread all the more disappointing. At her victory party, readers finally get to hear the Princess speak for the only time in the entire book. “C’mon Prince! We’ve got a dance contest to win!” What a crash and burn. The Princess has light-brown skin and black hair.

An exciting ride that unfortunately runs out of steam on the last lap. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2848-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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Visual fun overrides textual inadequacies, making this an enjoyable read with an inarguably valuable message.

ELBOW GREASE

If it first you don’t succeed, try getting hit by lightning.

The smallest of his four brothers, Elbow Grease is an electric-powered monster truck with big dreams. Each one of his brothers is tougher, faster, smarter, or braver than he is, but at least he’s got enough “gumption” to spare. That comes in handy when he rushes off to join a Grand Prix in a fit of pique. And while in the end he doesn’t win, he does at least finish thanks to a conveniently placed lightning bolt. That inspires the true winner of the race (Elbow Grease’s hero, Big Wheels McGee) to declare that it’s gumption that’s the true mark of a winner. With his emphasis on trying new things, even if you fail, Cena, a professional wrestler and celebrity, earnestly offers a legitimately inspiring message even if his writing borders on the pedestrian. Fortunately McWilliam’s illustrations give a great deal of life, emotion, action, and mud splatters to the middling text. Humans are few and far between, but the trucks’ keeper, Mel the mechanic, is pictured as a brown-skinned woman with glasses.

Visual fun overrides textual inadequacies, making this an enjoyable read with an inarguably valuable message. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7350-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Slight and contrived.

LITTLE TACO TRUCK

A little orange food truck parks in the same place every day, bringing tacos to hungry construction workers—till one morning, a falafel truck takes his spot.

Miss Falafel then brings by more of her friends, crowding out the taco truck. Little Taco Truck whines and cries, but after four days of being shut out by the bigger trucks, he finally takes the initiative. He spends the night in his former parking space, defending his territory when the other trucks arrive. The rest immediately apologize, and after some creative maneuvering, everyone fits—even the newly arrived noodle truck. Valentine’s naïve call for cooperation glosses over the very real problem of urban gentrification represented by the flood of bigger and better-equipped trucks taking over the neighborhood. When the taco truck is the only game in town, the food line consists of hard-hatted construction workers. Then, as falafel, arepa, gelato, hot dog, and gumbo trucks set up shop, professionals and hipsters start showing up. (All the customers are depicted as animals.) The author also inadvertently equates tacos with a lack of sophistication. “ ‘Hola, Miss Fal…Fal…’ Little Taco Truck tried to sound out the words on the side of the other truck.” Sadly, the truck sells Americanized crisp-shelled tacos. Even the glossary ignores the culinary versatility and cultural authenticity of the soft taco with this oversimplified and inaccurate definition: “A crispy Mexican corn pancake folded or rolled around a filling of meat, beans, and cheese.”

Slight and contrived. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6585-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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