This silly romp is sure to elicit giggles while promoting emotional intelligence.

HUG?

This kid learns to really hug it out.

An unnamed protagonist with black hair and light brown skin watches in surprise as a gray tabby hacks a hairball and announces, “I don’t feel well.” Sympathetic, the kid replies, “Do you want a hug?”—unwittingly initiating the formation of a line of animals in want of a hug. The text is limited to spare dialogue in speech bubbles, and so it is the lively illustrations that largely carry the plot. The first handful of furry friends are gentle, with a dog and a pair of ducks against a pastel watercolor backdrop. As the action escalates, so does the choice of animals, which include a skunk, a porcupine, a bear, and a sneaky tiger who attempts to make a snack out of the tabby. As the obscurity and size of the animals comically escalate, so do the kid’s reactions. Generously, the kid acquiesces to each request despite the personal toll. The kid’s appearance and reactions, however, go from neat through frazzled to full-out disheveled, with frayed hair and stained clothes. Eventually an eclectic ensemble of demanding creatures, complete with a fiery dragon, provokes the beleaguered protagonist to yell, “STOP!” After this eruption, the tabby helps the kid find peace—with a hug, of course. Short and sweet, the book gently guides readers to find balance between helping others while acknowledging their own emotional needs. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 69.4% of actual size.)

This silly romp is sure to elicit giggles while promoting emotional intelligence. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0206-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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