A fun and engaging book with plenty of humor.

HAMSTER SITTER WANTED

Hamster friends Marco and Polo don’t want to give up their adventures, so they look for a sitter who can handle all of Marco’s rowdy little cousins.

Marco and Polo just want to go sky diving or “lion dancing” together, but sitter after sitter refuses to return once they have spent a day with the uncountable horde of hamster children. Just as Marco and Polo have reluctantly decided to give up their hobbies, they meet Ms. Bottomus, a hippopotamus who reins in the hamsters by literally sitting on them. Children will get a laugh out of the puns and visual jokes throughout the book. Gunaratnam infuses the text with simple but amusing wordplay, such as the “wound up” sheep babysitter, who is both frazzled and literally wrapped in yarn. Marks peppers her digitally collaged illustrations with details for children to notice, such as a pigeon looking on in concern as a fox reads the ad seeking a hamster sitter and a tailpiece in which two of the little hamsters construct pointy-hat “derrière defenders.” Though there are some puzzling elements (How old are Marco and Polo? Why do they live together? Where have all the responsible adults gone?), the plot follows a satisfying problem-and-solution structure and, enjoyably, does not end in a lesson about how good children should behave.

A fun and engaging book with plenty of humor. (illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-84886-359-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Maverick Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

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THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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