A clever, wonderfully silly, delightful romp.

THIS IS A DOG

A dog makes sure it is the center of attention.

This winsome story takes the premise of a child’s first animal-identification picture dictionary (in fact the crossed-out title on the cover is My First Animal Book; the title is written beneath it in crayon) that has been hijacked by the first animal presented in the book: a dog. A black-and-white, floppy-eared mutt with a crayon in its mouth takes the story in paw and makes sure readers notice who is really important in the animal world. Each double-page spread offers the simple text “This is a [whatever animal is being shown]” together with an illustration of that animal. The dog, however, inserts itself into each spread: cavorting, teasing, or, in the case of the giraffe, peeing (sure to be a reader favorite) and in general stealing the spotlight. The animals’ expressions run the gamut from weary through surprised to annoyed and irritated to let readers know what they think about this forward dog. More than once (as with the title) the dog crosses out the printed text to write itself in: “This is a dog.” Eventually the animals tire of this self-aggrandizing behavior, and a page turn reveals that “This is a chase,” showing the animals in full pursuit of the dog. But the next page turn reveals that the dog is back in charge. If readers aren’t laughing out loud by now, they aren’t ready for this kind of metafictive play—give it a few months and bring it back out.

A clever, wonderfully silly, delightful romp. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1200-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

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THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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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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