LUCKY CHUCK

The cautionary tale of a teenage cyclist who flouts the Motor Vehicle Code—in picture-book format and spoofy Dick-and-Jane form. Exactly who is meant to make what use of this odd item is a puzzlement. The publishers age it, like the run of picture-books, 4—8. But it's full of technical information and technical lingo, and, with its close-up drawings of the motorcycle's parts, it does obviously intend to be a guide to motorcycle operation. At the same time, the mock-primerese—"This is Chuck's motorcycle-driver's license. He earned it by studying the Motor Vehicle Code and passing a driver's test. . . . This is Chuck's mother worrying about Chuck and his motorcycle"—has a satirical tone out-of-sync with both the technical detail and Chuck's reckless driving. "Now Chuck is riding down the white line in the center of the pavement. He is having such a good time he forgets the Motor Vehicle Code. What does it know about fun?" A little later: "This is a rearview mirror that reflects the Highway Patrol chasing Chuck with blinking lights. Ooo-ee! Ooo-ee! Now Chuck remembers the Motor Vehicle Code." Later still: "This is unlucky Chuck skidding on the gravel and laying it down. Thump! Bump! Chuck flies off his bike into some weeds. Yowl Ouch! There may be some kids around nine or ten, who'll recognize the Cleary name, think fondly of mouse Ralph, see the authentic motorcycle poop, and lap it all up. But the book resembles nothing so much as a public-service offering from the motorcycle folk, jollied up for popular appeal.

Pub Date: March 28, 1984

ISBN: 0060082399

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1984

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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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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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