Around the neighborhood or on a road trip, pre-reading passengers will be ready to understand the signs along the way.


Thirty-five road signs explained to toddlers in an extra-thick board book.

Those ubiquitous universal symbols that decorate our streets and highways can be a mystery to kids buckled into their car seats. Explanations written in simple, direct language aim to demystify them. On the inside front cover and its recto page, a four-sentence introduction explains that signs “are a code to let drivers know how to stay safe.” Bright orange text with key words printed in white stands out against the black background. The signs are organized into five increasingly specialized categories: “Everyday,” “Neighborhood,” “Highway,” “Caution,” and “Nature.” All but eight signs are wordless symbols. A full spread is devoted to each one, with the sign on the right and a brief description in a clean black type on a gray page to the left. To adult ears these definitions seem obvious and even redundant, but explanations like “Yield / Let other cars go first!” are admirably successful at translating abstract concepts into concrete terms. Pages cut in the shapes of the signs both add playful variety and ensure small fingers can turn the thick pages. Clean graphics keep the focus on the signs. The final spread offers thumbnail drawings of all the signs by category.

Around the neighborhood or on a road trip, pre-reading passengers will be ready to understand the signs along the way. (Board book. 1-5)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22432-8

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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The lack of real excitement will make these helpers fade from memory like sirens on a distant road.


Part emergency adventure, part reassurance that help is on the way—youngsters fascinated by vehicles with sirens will be attracted to this board book.

Straightforward, declarative text and fanciful, somewhat futuristic pictures describe “a big beautiful world, filled with awesome adventures.” The second spread previews the helpers and their vehicles with profile views of six types of vehicles against a clean white background. The final spread shows front views of the same six rescue vehicles. In between, spreads focus on three different emergencies. In a busy spread headlined “Uh-oh, an accident,” readers see a police car, an ambulance, and a tow truck, while a police helicopter hovers overhead. “Uh-oh, a storm!” shows the water-based versions of emergency vehicles against a rain-gray background. “Uh-oh, a fire!” focuses on firefighters, with police and EMTs playing supporting roles. All the vehicles are staffed by smiling animal characters reminiscent of Richard Scarry’s Busytown creatures but without the whimsy of those classics. The final text proclaims that “helpers…are the ones who save the world.” The wordy text and detailed pictures make this board book most suited for older toddlers intrigued by emergency vehicles, but the placid delivery is out of sync with the notion that the depicted world is in peril.

The lack of real excitement will make these helpers fade from memory like sirens on a distant road. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0599-8

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Smoother rides are out there.


From the Beginner Books series

Mommy and Bonnie—two anthropomorphic rodents—go for a joyride and notice a variety of conveyances around their busy town.

The pair encounter 22 types of vocational vehicles as they pass various sites, including a fire engine leaving a firehouse, a school bus approaching a school, and a tractor trailer delivering goods to a supermarket. Narrated in rhyming quatrains, the book describes the jobs that each wheeled machine does. The text uses simple vocabulary and sentences, with sight words aplenty. Some of the rhymes don't scan as well as others, and the description of the mail truck’s role ("A mail truck brings / letters and cards / to mailboxes / in people's yards) ignores millions of readers living in yardless dwellings. The colorful digitally illustrated spreads are crowded with animal characters of every type hustling and bustling about. Although the art is busy, observant viewers may find humor in details such as a fragile item falling out of a moving truck, a line of ducks holding up traffic, and a squirrel’s spilled ice cream. For younger children enthralled by vehicles, Sally Sutton’s Roadwork (2011) and Elizabeth Verdick’s Small Walt series provide superior text and art and kinder humor. Children who have little interest in cars, trucks, and construction equipment may find this offering a yawner. Despite being advertised as a beginner book, neither text nor art recommend this as an engaging choice for children starting to read independently. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Smoother rides are out there. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-37725-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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