An adorable hamster, a fire engine, and fireworks: high preschooler appeal.

STANLEY'S FIRE ENGINE

From the Stanley series

Stanley the hamster and friends show the parts and uses of his fire engine.

Bee’s hamster is back again, this time using his fire engine to help friends and assist with a fireworks display. Stanley’s truck itself might look a bit unfamiliar to little readers, as it isn’t a modern shiny vehicle but rather a 1940s version used in Great Britain, with a wooden ladder and large wheel that ratchets it up protruding from the rear. In a 90-degree turn sure to delight little ones, readers see Stanley atop the wooden ladder, its gears and wheel on display. Together with his chipmunk friend Peggy, Stanley uses the fire engine for kid-friendly activities, such as rescuing kites from a tree, filling a baby pool, and standing by at a fireworks show. In fact, the only real mention of firefighting is when mouse friend Charlie’s barbecue goes awry. Bee’s illustrations, familiar to Stanley fans, are simply wrought, black-outlined images mostly presented against white backgrounds. The two layouts that vary stand out as a result: the bursting fireworks against a dark blue sky and Stanley’s nighttime arrival at home, a blue-washed scene with a gorgeous glowing lantern. Both will earn a lingering look of awe from readers.

An adorable hamster, a fire engine, and fireworks: high preschooler appeal. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-214-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A particularly soppy, sloppy addition to an already-overstuffed genre.

I LOVE YOU MORE AND MORE

A bear cub gets a load of lyrical loving from a lumbering parent in this nature walk.

Expressed in stumbling rhyme—“I love you more than trees / love to change with every season. / I love you more than anything. / I cannot name just one reason”—Benson’s perfervid sentiments accompany scenes of bear and cub strolling through stands of birch, splashing into a river to watch (just watch) fish, and, in a final moonlit scene, cuddling beneath starry skies. Foxes, otters, and other animal parents and offspring, likewise adoring, make foreground cameos along the way in Lambert’s neatly composed paper-collage–style illustrations. Since the bears are obvious stand-ins for humans (the cub even points at things and in most views is posed on two legs), the gender ambiguity in both writing and art allow human readers some latitude in drawing personal connections, but that’s not enough to distinguish this uninspired effort among the teeming swarm of “I Love You This Much!” titles.

A particularly soppy, sloppy addition to an already-overstuffed genre. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68010-022-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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