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CHESTER RACCOON AND THE ALMOST PERFECT SLEEPOVER

From the Kissing Hand series

Oddly incongruent to the Kissing Hand (1993) premise—fans of the original will likely be perplexed, though it does present a...

Chester Raccoon faces a new childhood anxiety in the latest addition to the Kissing Hand series.

A sleepover at Pepper Opossum’s tree has Chester Raccoon excited. But it is not called an “overnight,” because these animals are nocturnal. Instead, Chester is going on an “overday.” (Sometimes wordplay can be more confusing than clever.) When Chester and his mother reach the Opossums’ tree, she places the requisite kiss in the palm of his hand, curls his fingers around it, and leaves him feeling safe and loved. The entire day is spent romping and playing as only woodland friends can—hanging by tails in trees, throwing darts made from porcupine quills and acorns, and splashing in the creek. The tale, punctuated by purple-colored “stinky puffs” from Sassafras Skunk, meanders realistically, until the creatures are tuckered out. When they all start yawning, everyone burrows in Pepper Opossum’s den to sleep. Everyone but Chester. Apparently, his mother’s Kissing Hand makes him feel safe, but it is not powerful enough to keep him from being homesick. Mrs. Opossum is kindly understanding, and a neighboring rabbit hops him back to his own hollow. An out-of-place poem muddles the end; it’s not a rhyme that will help kids address their own worries but, instead, simply a recap of the story.

Oddly incongruent to the Kissing Hand (1993) premise—fans of the original will likely be perplexed, though it does present a familiar childhood dilemma without shaming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-939100-11-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2018

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MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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