A well-constructed toy book, though its narrative might leave readers with mixed feelings.


From the Pull and Play series

In this French import, little animals experience big emotions, but by talking about feelings and with a little help from a pull-tab, the situations turn around.

Depicting familiar problems that will resonate with a toddler audience, each illustration uses a sturdy pull-tab to transition from the child’s dilemma to the resolution. Adult characters nicely model helping children navigate emotional moments, with one particularly successful page showing a small bear clinging to his mother, frightened of a dog. Mommy coaxes him forward, and with a pull of the tab, readers see the bear comfortably greeting the pup; it’s a gratifyingly presented miniature drama. Excellent pages, though, share the book with ho-hum ones: An “excited” little monkey’s only action is packing his backpack, an underwhelming visual change, and a toddler kangaroo (that looks a lot like a bunny) declaring himself “disgusted” seems like a linguistic stretch. Children will enjoy the tabs, which are seamless in their transition from scene to scene. Vintage 1970s-inspired cartoon animals have dramatic faces that clearly inform readers how they feel, though the animals lean closer to quirky than cute. At times, the translation feels stiff, and the dialogue’s reliance on treacly pet names—not to mention the downright cloying ending of “I love ice cream, Daddy! But I love you more”—seems contrived.

A well-constructed toy book, though its narrative might leave readers with mixed feelings. (Board book. 18 mos.-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-2-40800-792-8

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Wonderful, indeed

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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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