There’s a place for everyone at this dog park, with an inclusive, cheerful atmosphere and a subtle message that everyone can...

BARK PARK!

Dogs of many sizes and breeds accompany their owners to an extensive dog park for a day of canine cavorting.

The story begins with two dogs, a Chihuahua and a Great Dane that live together, waiting by their door with excitement about going to the park. Other dogs proceed in turn to the park with their owners, a multicultural cast of human characters of different ages and ethnicities. The dog owners include older adults, two women in hijabs, and an interracial pair of dads with their baby. The dogs and their humans play and interact in small groups in vignettes and single-page illustrations, followed by a double-page spread with all the characters in action spread across the wide expanse of the well-appointed park. The dogs and owners then return to their homes for food and naps, during which some of the dogs dream of their time at the park. The minimal text unfolds in rhyming couplets with just a few words per page. The spare text is well-matched with delicate, detailed illustrations in pen and ink with watercolor and colored pencil, with extensive use of white space. This deceptively simple story can be used with a wide range of young readers: toddlers just starting to listen to real stories, preschoolers who like finding tiny details in illustrations, and emergent readers who will be able to handle the short, amusing text.

There’s a place for everyone at this dog park, with an inclusive, cheerful atmosphere and a subtle message that everyone can play together and get along. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3075-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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

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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