Welcome to the spring bookshelf, Bear. So glad you like berries! (Picture book. 3-6)


After waking up from hibernation, Bear is starved. Breakfast is in order, but the perplexed ursine cannot put a paw on exactly what it should be; it starts with the letter B….

It can’t be friend Bunny, who informs Bear, “I am too skinny to taste good” but will help with the search. The pair set off and meet up with Bumblebee. Before Bear can get any ideas, Bumblebee stings it on the nose, and Bear quickly decides to keep looking, now with the insect’s help as well. Now there are three on the breakfast search. Bit by bit the search party grows as they encounter Boa (who offers some bark), a bat (who is too bony for bears), and Bluebird (who needs to take care of her beautiful babies). Eventually, in a nail-biting sequence over three double-page spreads, they spot a brown-skinned child. Could it possibly be that this is the “B!” Bear is looking for? Children are clearly meant to see a boy here and supply the story's punch line, but the word "Boy" is never printed on the page. Readers will be relieved to find it’s the “Berries!!!” the child has been gathering. The story ends with everyone, child included, taking a nap after a bountiful breakfast of berries. Helquist’s charming acrylic-and-oil illustrations are very expressive, anthropomorphizing the animals just enough to engage but making sure Bear’s canines are evident at all times. The spread in which the animals wonder anxiously if they have finally found Bear’s “B!” is priceless.

Welcome to the spring bookshelf, Bear. So glad you like berries! (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-226455-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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As ephemeral as a valentine.


Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

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.


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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