Not too long. Not too scary. Just right for first-time trick-or-treaters to read again and again.

FIVE SPOOKY FRIENDS

Halloween condensed to its essence for the board-book set.

This sturdy board book invites interaction right from the start. Little fingers quickly find the kid-sized slider that makes the black bat on the cover swoop back and forth above a jack-o’-lantern, a cat, a witch, and a ghost. A full spread is devoted to each of these Halloween icons beginning with “1 / ONE purple witch [who] is flying on her magic broom.” Then a single line of rhyming text each describes the actions of “TWO glowing pumpkins,” “THREE hanging bats,” “FOUR moonlit cats” (in costume), and “FIVE spooky ghosts.” Thoughtful inclusion of both the numeral and number word is helpful for toddlers learning to count. On each recto page, a slider moves the featured creature while also shifting an image in the larger illustration. Sharp-eyed readers will notice a mouse not mentioned in the text that shows up in every scene. Flaps on the windows of the haunted house on the final page open to reveal pumpkin, bat, cat, and witch. And surprise, the mouse is behind the door, ready to welcome the ghosts to the party. Dark shaded tones make for a spooky mood. Additional traditional Halloween symbols (glowing eyes, an owl, spiders, a skeleton) haunt the pictures, but everyone is smiling, so the fear factor is minimized.

Not too long. Not too scary. Just right for first-time trick-or-treaters to read again and again. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68010-689-3

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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An unabashed love letter from mother.

I LOVE YOU, LITTLE POOKIE

From the Little Pookie series

A sweet celebration of the bond between a mother and her Pookie.

The eighth installment in this always charming series eschews the episodic drama and silliness of earlier outing such as Spooky Pookie (2015) in favor of a mom’s-eye-view celebration of her child and the time they spend together. There is, of course, nothing wrong with drama and silliness. But while the lack of conflict and plot in favor of unapologetic sentiment makes this book a quick read, that doesn’t make it any less endearing. The rhymed verse captures a mother’s wonder as she observes the many facets of her child’s personality: “Ah, Pookie. My little one. My funny one. My child. // Sometimes you are quiet. Sometimes you are wild.” On the simple joys of shared moments, she notes, “I love to go walking with you by my side. / I love when we sing when we go for a ride. // And I love just to watch as you think and you play. / The way that you are is a wonderful way.” Paired with author/illustrator Boynton’s irresistible renderings of a porcine mommy and her playful, snuggly little piglet, the result is impossible to fault. Whether quietly reading, running in a tiger suit, singing with mom in the car, ears flapping in the breeze, or enjoying the safety of mom’s embrace, Pookie’s appeal continues unabated.

An unabashed love letter from mother. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3723-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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