Visual beauty plus the beauty of closeness in sad times. Cuddle close for this one.

BEFORE WE SLEEP

This Italian import asks readers to consider: What if one friend needs to hibernate and the other doesn’t?

The forest is turning “rich amber, burned orange, and chestnut brown.” Little Red, a burnt-orange fox with a sharp snout, revels in the camouflage, excited to go unseen by Hazel the dormouse. Before readers can grasp the wisp of a predator-prey implication, the page turn curves lightly in the opposite direction: Hazel and Little Red are best friends, blissfully frolicking together in the autumn leaves. The hiding is for hide-and-seek. This joy is fleeting, though, because “the smell of winter mean[s] one thing: loneliness.” The fox is the vulnerable one; Hazel’s about to hibernate. Hazel’s burrow—a two-storied teapot featuring a duvet-covered bed, an oven, and tea towel—will hold Hazel all winter long, leaving Little Red alone and forlorn. Proietti’s gently textured fox fur, grasses, plants, and skies are softly melancholy. Close-ups (Hazel dozing off while holding Little Red’s ear) alternate with landscapes: half-bare trees whose trunks are starkly discrete, symbolizing winter’s isolation; the sun hanging low in a pale, yellow-gray sky as the two friends sit motionless. Eventually, Hazel and Little Red fall asleep together outside the teapot. Whether this solves the problem or merely postpones it, their affection is a solid comfort.

Visual beauty plus the beauty of closeness in sad times. Cuddle close for this one. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63655-004-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Red Comet Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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