The energy snapping within each action-packed frame adds to the rollicking fun Bruce is definitely not having.

SPRING STINKS

From the Mother Bruce series

Ah, spring. It brings out the best in bears—unless the bear’s name is Bruce!

In this exploration of the character’s backstory, the book opens with Bruce as chirpy and full of bonhomie as a pterodactyl on a bad day. Ruth the bunny, however, is beside herself as she revels in the glories of the season. Pilfering Bruce’s basket, she insists on rubbing Bruce’s unappreciative nose in a cornucopia of scents (er—stinks). Grass? Daisies? Wet moose? “ ‘Grrrr!’ grumbles Bruce.” One after another, the fresh and abundant offerings of nature are met with Bruce’s ringing approval—well, more like a grudging tolerance—actually, a resounding, “Rrrr!” Wait a minute! Is that honey? Bruce likes honey, doesn’t he? But then a bee makes a “beeeeeeeline” straight for Bruce’s “beeeeeeehind.” He careens tail over teakettle, much to Ruth’s delight, down a grassy hill until he lands, honey-smeared, on his banged-up head right in the path of a—skunk! Spring stinks. Higgins’ sparse text is humorously juxtaposed with his signature, detail-packed, engaging illustrations. The mouse-sized treehouse and the despondent, dripping moose are especially delightful. Bruce’s unibrow is practically a protagonist in and of itself. Ruth’s exuberance plays off Bruce’s disgruntledness like a sweet pear off gorgonzola. (This book was reviewed digitally with 7-by-14-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

The energy snapping within each action-packed frame adds to the rollicking fun Bruce is definitely not having. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-06091-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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 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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