A droll, nonthreatening tale of bullying in the guise of a modern fable.

LION VS. RABBIT

Lion’s a real bully, but he may have met his match when wily Rabbit takes him on.

Tired of Lion’s bullying but not brave enough to confront him, all the animals advertise for someone to “make Lion stop bullying us.” A bear, a moose and a tiger respond, but Lion quickly defeats each. When Rabbit arrives, Lion’s confident he’ll win and tells Rabbit to pick the contest, so Rabbit chooses a marshmallow-eating competition and wins. Disgruntled, Lion complains he was sick, so Rabbit offers a quiz contest. Rabbit wins this, as well as hopping and painting competitions, but as Lion always has some excuse for losing, Rabbit tells him to choose a final competition. Knowing he’s faster, stronger and a better climber, Lion suggests a race to the top of the mountain, but no matter how fast Lion runs, clever Rabbit always seems to get ahead. Precise, digitized pencil illustrations utilize simple lines, patterns and colors to highlight Lion’s mean and silly bullying antics, his prowess in competitions against the bear, moose and tiger, and his humiliating defeats against wily Rabbit. Readers with sharp eyes will be rewarded with numerous amusing visual details, including hidden hints about how Rabbit outwits Lion.

A droll, nonthreatening tale of bullying in the guise of a modern fable. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56145-709-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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