We think you can, we think you can, we think you can…skip this superfluous outing.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE ENGINE

The line between book and brand blurs with this bedtime take on an old standby.

Watty Piper’s little blue engine, best known for her persistence, now finds herself wide awake in the roundhouse when bedtime comes. Venturing out to investigate a nighttime sound, she finds a lost baby bird and decides to return it to its mother. Immediately they engage the help of Rusty Engine and some of the toys from the original story. These now appear to live with the engines in the roundhouse (guess they never made it to the good little girls and boys after all?). But what’s this? The mama bird has been living in the roundhouse this whole time too! (So what was Little Bird doing outside? And how is it that he doesn’t recognize the roundhouse as his home?) Family is reunited. Art meant to evoke bygone days depicts characters and scenery alike in bright, bold colors. The dolls include a light-skinned one with blond hair and one brown-skinned doll with brown hair as well as a monkey that unfortunately reinforces the old silly-monkey stereotype. One cannot help but remark that, with the release of the 90th-anniversary edition of The Little Engine That Could, newly illustrated by Dan Santat (2020), this tepid, illogical title, riding on the coattails of a classic, seems totally unnecessary.

We think you can, we think you can, we think you can…skip this superfluous outing. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09457-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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