A knock-down knockout in more ways than one.


From the Construction Site series

Why should the act of construction get all the fun? Time to break it all down.

The beloved characters from Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (2011), return for yet another outing, this time delving deep into the process of destruction. An old building needs to come down, and the trucks are more than eager to oblige. Everyone plays a part: the crane wielding the wrecking ball, the excavator bashing in walls, the little skid steer breaking rocks apart. Unlike many other books about demolitions, this one takes time after every destructive sequence to note that as materials are wrenched asunder, they’re also sorted for recycling purposes. After a hard day’s work, it’s only natural that it end with the vehicles bedding down after, “Another good day. Now, goodnight.” Expect established fans to thoroughly enjoy both the familiar faces (like the excavator, crane, and dump truck) as well as newer types (like the front-end loader); readers new to the series will likely want to seek out earlier volumes. Ideal as a read-aloud, the rhyming text offers plenty of chances for adult readers to accentuate the onomatopoeia—“KA-BOOM!”; “SMASH!”; “Honk! Honk! Roar!”; and more—for their enthralled tykes. As with previous books in the series, there are both male and female trucks, though the “he”s outnumber the “she”s, and there are no clearly identified nonbinary trucks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 26.7% of actual size.)

A knock-down knockout in more ways than one. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-8257-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A Christmas train book that gets derailed by a lacking story arc.


From the The Goodnight Train series

Not quite the Polar Express….

Sobel’s rhyming text fails to deliver a clear premise for the eponymous goodnight train’s Christmas Eve progress through the pages, and Huliska-Beith’s acrylic paintings embellished with fabric and paper collage don’t clarify the storytelling. At the start of the picture book, a bevy of anthropomorphic animals decorates a rather rickety-looking engine, and then human children gather around and pile into train cars that look like beds and cribs. The train follows a track, seemingly in pursuit of Santa’s sleigh, but to what end isn’t clear. They travel “through a town of gingerbread” and through the woods to find the sleigh blocking the tracks and the reindeer snoozing while, mystifyingly, Santa counts some sheep. Perching the sleigh on the train’s cowcatcher, they all proceed to the North Pole, where the “elves all cheer. / Santa’s here until next year!” But then the goodnight train just…leaves, “heading home on Christmas Eve.” Was this a dream? It definitely wasn’t a story with a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. Santa’s face is never seen; the human children and elves are diverse.

A Christmas train book that gets derailed by a lacking story arc. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-61840-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Truck lovers of any gender will find this title a treat, but the hyperfeminine companion is sadly restrictive.


Richly textured board pages and a limited color palette distinguish this tribute to trucks.

The gray buckram cover is a delight to hold, while bright red endpapers promise excitement within. Beautifully designed using shades of red, black, white, and brown on matte pages, the whole package has a retro, letterpress feel. The first truck is a firetruck big enough for a brown-skinned child to straddle. Later pages feature construction vehicles, a flatbed trailer, and an ice cream truck. The slight text has a lyrical quality, though the occasional rhymes seem accidental. Relatively abstract concepts are casually introduced, “Love is a kid who lines them all up. Biggest to smallest, color by color.” On the final page the brown-skinned child is kissed goodnight while clutching a truck under a road-patterned blanket. The main character wears plaid bib overalls and has longish curly hair. Another child, also brown-skinned, with close-cropped hair, plays with the construction trucks, shares a treat from the ice cream truck, and offers a goodnight kiss. Unfortunately, a less gender-neutral companion volume, Love Is a Tutu, clearly aims for the ballerina market with an excess of pink. Together the two books assure little girls they can love both tutus and trucks. Unfortunately, they send a mixed message to little boys.

Truck lovers of any gender will find this title a treat, but the hyperfeminine companion is sadly restrictive. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-937359-86-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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