Little Blue Truck Makes a Friend

Clarion. Sept. 2022. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780358722823.
PreS-Gr 1–Perennially popular Little Blue Truck returns to welcome a new neighbor. As Blue and Toad travel along, they are met by each of their animal friends, who have concerns and questions about the animal who has just moved in. Blue takes them all to meet their new neighbor, who lives in a hill with a round door marked “Woodchuck’s House.” When the door opens, the animals desperately hide and watch as Blue offers Chuck a loud, “WE ARE VERY GLAD YOU’RE HERE!” Chuck expresses his thanks and reveals his shyness, and the other animals are inspired to make friends. While the story offers a lovely message on being welcoming and inclusive, there is great value in the fact that none of the animals are ridiculed or criticized for their fear of meeting their new, “different,” neighbor. Blue simply models kindness. That lack of commentary offers young readers a nonintrusive normalization of these feelings without accompanying shame or guilt. This increases the book’s relatability and its utility as a discussion prompt on topics ranging from making friends to creating broadly inclusive communities. Typical of this series, the rhyming couplets, animal sounds, and truck beeps make this an excellent choice for a read-aloud. While some couplets do not flow as smoothly as others, this is unlikely to bother most readers. As in more recent entries, John Joseph illustrates in series artist’s McElmurry’s style of friendly creatures frolicking through detailed pastoral settings. Some adults may be amused that the exterior of Woodchuck’s house looks like a Hobbit hole.
VERDICT A welcome addition to the Little Blue Truck canon, recommended for general purchase.

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