YARA'S TAWARI TREE

A story with a good ecological message and vibrant paintings that falls short by omitting context.

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In this latest picture-book series entry, Lapid (Mother’s Day With Snowman Paul, 2018, etc.) offers strong couplets about a girl and a tree saving each other, and returning illustrator Pasek highlights the bright colors of its tropical setting.

A small tawari sapling is threatened by bulldozers and fires that are clearing the forest. Yara, a young Indigenous girl, comes to its rescue. The sapling grows quickly to become a tree that Yara (who appears to still be the same age) can climb. One day, when Yara becomes very ill, her mother brings an elder to their home to make a diagnosis. The elder laments that there once was a tree that could provide her with a remedy, but it may now be extinct. Savvy readers will be unsurprised that Yara’s tawari tree is the very one that she needs to cure her sickness, thus repaying her kindness. Lapid’s message—that humans need the rainforest as much as the rainforest needs them to save it—comes through clearly in Yara and the tree’s personal connection. Unfortunately, with no author’s note and an unnamed setting, it’s hard to gauge the authenticity of Pasek’s apparently Amazon-inspired images or Lapid’s cultural descriptions.

A story with a good ecological message and vibrant paintings that falls short by omitting context.

Pub Date: July 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9973899-5-1

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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