A refreshing and fun reimagining of the traditional board-book format.

DRIVE THE FIRE TRUCK

This board book puts readers behind the steering wheel of a fire truck on the way to an emergency.

When closed, the book forms a semicircle with the binding as the straight edge; opening it to the first page reveals two cutout handles on either side of what is now a circular book. With gauges and controls across the bottom, the perspective allows readers to imagine they are holding the steering wheel and driving a fire truck. The first page shows the rising garage door, and the subsequent pages have the truck approaching billowing smoke that comes into view ever closer and clearer. The rhyming text includes commands that urge readers to “push” the buttons on the steering wheel. For example, “Park the truck, extend the ladder” encourages readers to touch the yellow ladder control. The novelty of the perspective is thrilling fun for toddlers. Following the directions in the text, including which way to turn, helps bring the story to life. The illustrations are simple and bold, with added touches that highlight certain focal points such as yellow lightning bolts coming from the crackling radio. There are only a few pages where firefighters are shown, but the characters depicted vary in gender and racial presentation. Companion title Drive the Race Car puts readers into a high-speed race, complete with a pit stop and a checkered-flag win.

A refreshing and fun reimagining of the traditional board-book format. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7885-1

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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

SANTA AND THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN

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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