A serviceable but not particularly stellar ode to female empowerment.

STRUT, BABY, STRUT

Kroll encourages girls and women along every step of their life journey.

A Black infant with Afro puffs shimmies, crawls, and wobbles. When she grows into a toddler, she meets two other girls: one White and redheaded with twin ponytails and the other brown-skinned, straight-haired, and cued as Asian. The book follows these girls and their friendship as they grow and change, with the text addressing them directly throughout: baby, toddler, little girl, big kid, teen, young lady, woman. The messaging is overtly motivational: “lean toward tomorrow,” “reach high, / for all your dreams,” “always do you,” “know your worth,” and “make yourself proud.” Glenn’s digital artwork is full of bold colors, background patterns, and smiling faces and refreshingly shows girls discovering their passions as they age (in this case, activism, soccer, and photography.) No boys or men are pictured, and the girls all resemble their mothers, missing an opportunity to show family diversity. There is, however, fat representation, and a background character wears a hijab. The story rhymes, but the text layout sometimes makes it hard to determine the directionality of print, so some readers may miss the rhyming pattern; also, the meter is often clunky and lacks polish, making the book tough to read aloud fluidly. An audience is hard to pin down—the simple presentation is ideal for emergent readers, but the time skips may fly over their heads. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A serviceable but not particularly stellar ode to female empowerment. (Board book. 2-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9859-4

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

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. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Wonderful, indeed

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THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE

A GROWING-UP POEM

A love song to baby with delightful illustrations to boot.

Sweet but not saccharine and singsong but not forced, Martin’s text is one that will invite rereadings as it affirms parental wishes for children while admirably keeping child readers at its heart. The lines that read “This is the first time / There’s ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do” capture the essence of the picture book and are accompanied by a diverse group of babies and toddlers clad in downright adorable outfits. Other spreads include older kids, too, and pictures expand on the open text to visually interpret the myriad possibilities and hopes for the depicted children. For example, a spread reading “Will you learn how to fly / To find the best view?” shows a bespectacled, school-aged girl on a swing soaring through an empty white background. This is just one spread in which Martin’s fearless embrace of the white of the page serves her well. Throughout the book, she maintains a keen balance of layout choices, and surprising details—zebras on the wallpaper behind a father cradling his child, a rock-’n’-roll band of mice paralleling the children’s own band called “The Missing Teeth”—add visual interest and gentle humor. An ideal title for the baby-shower gift bag and for any nursery bookshelf or lap-sit storytime.

Wonderful, indeed . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37671-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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