GOOD NIGHT ENGINES

This little charmer is clearly intended for the vehicle-obsessed toddler. As a young boy plays with his cars, trucks, planes, and trains, the bedtime theme emerges with: “Sunset glowing in the west. / Engine slowing, / wheels at rest.” In savory, rich colors, the most striking of which are the deep plums and cobalt blues, Iwai’s illustrations are meticulous. The settings alternate from realistic, life scenes of, say, a plane landing on a runway (perhaps the boy’s imaginative vision) with that of the boy holding the toy plane aloft. The little tyke’s bedroom is a pleasant jumble of toys that make up the backdrop of his play with blocks, stuffed animals, jacks, and all manner of conveyance. Mortensen has written just enough text to engage the sleepy child while the soothing cadence will help ease the youngster into a contented slumber. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-13537-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2003

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To quote one particularly joyous double-page spread, “Oh, what a ride!”

BEAR CAME ALONG

A succession of forest creatures—and even the river itself—learn from one another and validate their relationships with both one another and the wider world.

The simplicity of the text and the stylized, comical creatures belie the depth of the message that comes through for even the youngest of readers: We are all in this together, and our differences strengthen our unity. The river “didn’t know it was a river…until” Bear accidentally begins riding down it on a piece of broken tree trunk. Bear in turn doesn’t realize he is on an adventure until Froggy lands on his back; lonely Froggy doesn’t know how many friends she has until the wary Turtles show up on the ever-more-swiftly-moving log; the Turtles learn how to enjoy the ride when Beaver climbs aboard; and so on through several more characters until they are all at the brink of a waterfall. Outstanding art perfectly complements the text, showing the animals’ differing personalities while also using color, space, and patterns to create appealing scenery. There are several hilarious double-page spreads, including one from the animals’ collective perspective, showing solely the various feet on the tree-trunk–cum-raft at the waterfall’s edge, and one requiring a 90-degree turn, showing the plummeting animals as they reach for one another—some looking worried and others, like Duck and Beaver, obviously enjoying the sudden drop.

To quote one particularly joyous double-page spread, “Oh, what a ride!”  (author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-46447-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Preschoolers enamored with construction equipment will enjoy this cheerful tale, which is simple enough for little ones just...

DALMATIAN IN A DIGGER

Four animals with heavy construction equipment arrive to build a treehouse as a surprise for a Dalmatian puppy.

The puppy awakens to loud, unexpected sounds and a foreshadowing glimpse of a big, metal scoop outside the bedroom window. The puppy joyously discovers an adult Dalmatian driving an excavator, called a “digger” in this British author/illustrator’s text. Just a couple of brief sentences describe the action of the digger, punctuated with creative sound effects incorporated into the illustrations in collage-effect letters. Another set of loud sounds precedes the arrival of a camel in a crane, followed by a duck in a dump truck, and a bear in a bulldozer. Each new piece of equipment has its own set of exuberant sounds that relate loosely to the machine’s function, such as “DUMP, SPLAT, CRASH” for the dump truck. The patterned text uses the machines’ sounds as a predictive device, with a dramatic page turn to reveal the next animal and corresponding construction equipment. Bold, movement-filled illustrations create a buoyant atmosphere, with jaunty animal characters and bright flowers and trees surrounding the construction site. There’s a bit of a logic gap between the heavy equipment and the concluding treehouse, as there are no carpenters shown building the actual house. Another small drawback is the gender bias in the four animal equipment drivers, as only one is identified as female; the puppy’s gender is not specified.

Preschoolers enamored with construction equipment will enjoy this cheerful tale, which is simple enough for little ones just transitioning into real stories. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62370-802-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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