A clever, funny prod to do the right thing when changes take root.

NORMAN DIDN'T DO IT!

(YES, HE DID)

A newcomer tests the friendship between a porcupine and his beloved tree, Mildred.

Being well used to playing games with his silent, leafy partner, conducting one-sided conversations, and having her all to himself, Norman is outraged when a sapling springs up nearby: “And WHO is THAT?!” Seeing his best friend drifting away (figuratively), Norman is soon driven by anger and insecurity to dig up his leafy rival in the dead of night and cart it very, very far away—only to be wracked by both fear of being found out and, more worthily, guilt a little later. “I have hit rock bottom!” he declares, falling into the still-open hole next to Mildred, and so hastens off to fetch back the new tree and accommodate himself to being one of three…or, as Higgins suggests in a final scene, maybe more. A tubby figure with wide eyes and a worried expression, Norman strongly resembles a plush toy or inexcusably cute toddler in the mix of large cartoon panels and full-page scenes. Younger children, even those without new sibs or other strangers horning into the family, will have no trouble seeing him as a stand-in or understanding his upset. Along with appreciating the sly Giving Tree vibe and the comical way the narrative and the balloon-enclosed dialogue play off each other, older audiences may see a bit of a message for them, too.

A clever, funny prod to do the right thing when changes take root. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-02623-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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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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