Modestly informational and totally fun.

DON'T CALL ME BEAR!

An anguished koala beseeches readers not to confuse koalas with bears.

Warren, a frustrated marsupial, introduces himself and carefully explains the confusion. Yes, he’s furry, and yes, the explorer Capt. Cook misidentified his species years ago, but Cook was wrong. Bears live in the U.S., Canada, and the polar regions. “Australia doesn’t have bears!” Australia has marsupials such as kangaroos and wombats, emus (which are not chickens), and platypuses (which are not ducks). Blabey’s smoothly rhyming text is set in varying typefaces and fonts to emphasize Warren’s vexation. Australian terms, such as “chook” for chicken (defined in context) and “bush,” meaning a sparsely inhabited region, have been retained in this U.S. edition of a title first published in Australia in 2016. Humorous acrylic paintings feature the koala wearing various types of garb. In a chart of five marsupial species, all wear only tighty whities, guaranteeing giggles. Speech bubbles set on commanding background colors (lime green, deep yellow, ginger orange, light olive, and a deep red) carry the text and will show well to a group of kids who may want to chime in. Observant viewers will notice the crossed-out word in the phrase “koala bear” on a book cover and a toy store sign. When the kangaroo, emu, and platypus point out the obvious—he looks like a bear—he leaves in disgust. Pair with Jackie French and Bruce Whatley’s Diary of a Wombat (2003) for an Australian storytime.

Modestly informational and totally fun. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-36002-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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. 29, 2018

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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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