What will this quirky chicken plan next? (Picture book. 3-7)

CHICKEN IN SCHOOL

Fresh from an adventure in space (Chicken in Space, 2016), Zoey the chicken this time helps her pig, Sam, achieve his dream of attending school.

Of course, a makeshift classroom in the barn with Zoey as the teacher isn’t exactly what Sam had in mind, but as long as there’s snack, he’s in. Clara the cow is as pessimistic as ever, but studious, glasses-wearing Pip the mouse is looking forward to reading, and artistic Henry the dog to coloring. But Zoey’s lessons are rather unconventional: books are for “building imagination,” and crayons are for “creating adventures.” Kober’s digital illustrations show a castle made of books for the former, and for the latter, the accessorized students pose in front of crayon-drawn backdrops depicting space, a circus, and a pirate ship. Zoey’s next direction leaves both Clara and Sam up in arms: math simply cannot be skipped, nor can snack, even if the alternative is recess. Clara saves the day with an addition problem involving pies, and Zoey pitches in a real pie to satisfy Sam, and all agree that school is the best…because they are together. The animals’ postures and expressive faces are great fun, especially practical Clara’s, and the other three students throw themselves wholeheartedly into the fun.

What will this quirky chicken plan next? (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-236413-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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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