cover image Toot and Pop!

Toot and Pop!

Sebastien Braun. Harper, $12.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-207750-9

If Braun (Back to Bed, Ed!) were a less skilled illustrator, his story of Pop, a tiny hardworking tugboat that saves an arrogant-turned-grateful tanker named Toot, could be tiresome in its earnestness. But his cheery artwork and saturated preschool palette are hard to resist, even if this is a book in which “That’s what friends are for!” and “It’s all in a day’s work” are the extent of the wrapup. Braun imagines a toylike harbor where just about everything has a smiling face and googly eyes; thick black outlines, colors that are not quite flat (the purple-lavender water is especially nice), and an impressive assortment of framings give the pages surprising energy. Pop is also a big plus, so to speak: he’s so small that he literally has to look up to everyone (just like the target audience), but he’s competent and ever the optimist. Thomas the Tank Engine and Little Toot have nothing to worry about, but Braun’s story should hold readers’ attention and maybe even inspire some bathtub re-enactments. Ages 2–5. (June)