PUG & PIG AND FRIENDS

From the Pug & Pig series

Now that Pug and Pig are fast friends, it’s time to meet some of their other buddies.

In the yard of their large Victorian house, dog and pig explore and run in circles with their friends Robin and Squirrel (with the latter’s prominent stripe, Chipmunk might be a better name, though their tail is fluffy). Cat just watches these shenanigans, waiting for an opportunity to engage in her own fun: surprising Pug. Cat and Pig find this activity wildly amusing, but the other three “do not like surprises at all.” When a thunderstorm suddenly strikes, it’s every friend for themselves. Squirrel and Robin go to their tree nests, Pug and Pig run to their (dog)“house” (which looks like a small version of their Victorian “home”), and Cat, frightened by lightning, gets stuck in a tree. There she remains until clever Pug lures her down with her favorite pastime, which this time amuses all five friends. Not much happens in this outing, and there’s little to no character growth, making this closer in feel to the duo’s first meeting (Pug Meets Pig, 2016) than to their shining Halloween moment (Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat, 2017). The simply drawn cartoon scenes with few details and blocks of color keep the focus on the expressive faces and body language of the friends. Cat’s adorned with a collar and flower atop her head, Pig sports a blue shirt with a yellow ruffled collar, and Pug has a bow tie. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Unsatisfying. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6300-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 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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