A creative story teaches children ways to be kind.


A second grade teacher uses an invented machine to teach students about kindness in a picture book by author Christina Dankert and illustrator Chad Dankert.

Cora is confused when Mr. Wilson asks the class if anybody has a superpower. “What if I told you that ALL of you have a superpower?” he asks. Mr. Wilson then unveils the latest of his “extraordinary inventions”: the Kindness Machine, a contraption with levers, buttons, springs, and a screen at the top. When a button is pressed, the screen shows “an example of how to practice kindness.” Mr. Wilson helpfully elaborates. For instance, when the screen reads “LOVE YOURSELF,” he explains that while it’s “important to be kind to others,” self-compassion is vital, too. “If you make a mistake, tell yourself that it’s okay,” he says. When Cora presses a button, the screen reads, “BE A CHEF.” Mr. Wilson says: “Kindness is like baking a cake. The ideas from the Kindness Machine are your ingredients….The real magic happens when you combine them.” The students acknowledge that kindness involves superpowerlike actions, and the next time Mr. Wilson asks if anybody has a superpower, everyone raises a hand. Mr. Wilson’s examples of kindness are practical and easy to apply, such as offering smiles and compliments. Christina Dankert, a second grade teacher, writes from experience, and Chad Dankert gives his digitized full-color pictures a fun, cartoonlike quality. Cora has dark skin and interacts with classmates who have diverse skin tones, and a helpful list of discussion questions encourages children to think further about what they’ve read.

A creative story teaches children ways to be kind.

Pub Date: March 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-955119-08-5

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Purple Butterfly Press

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2022

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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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