This picture book about an interspecies friendship has plenty of lessons for humans, too.

LITTLE NARWHAL, NOT ALONE

In the middle of a frozen ocean, curious Narwhal goes exploring.

At first, every wonderful thing he sees is somewhat familiar; he spies arctic char and cod, a seal, a caribou, and seabirds swooping through what appear to be the northern lights. Before he knows it, though, Narwhal has wandered so far that he can’t find a single other narwhal anywhere. After a close run-in with the propeller of a boat, a nervous Narwhal runs into a pod of white whales. Although none of them has a tusk, they do seem to be similar enough to Narwhal that they could be potential friends. As Narwhal spends more time with the whales, he becomes overwhelmed with their differences: Narwhal speaks a different language, doesn’t know the whales’ song, and eats different fish than they do. But then, slowly, Narwhal gets to know his new friends—and realizes that they have much more in common than he first believed. Based on a true story about a narwhal who wandered so far away from its arctic home that it ended up joining a pod of beluga whales, this rhyming story of a real-life friendship is compelling not only for its plot, but also for its underlying message about how diversity makes us stronger. The illustrations make use of a varied, watery color palette to give the story a truly marine feel.

This picture book about an interspecies friendship has plenty of lessons for humans, too. (note) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77164-620-8

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Greystone Kids

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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