Hibernation has rarely felt so well earned and enchanting.

A STORY FOR SMALL BEAR

Preparing for winter hibernation instills a big lesson for Small Bear in this bedtime story.

When a late-fall wind chills the child after an afternoon nap, Mama says, “I smell frost in the air.…Tonight we’ll start our winter slumber.” But the day is packed; they must find sprigs of spruce to make a warm nest. There are juicy acorns to gather. And Small Bear needs to take a bath before their long sleep. Small Bear wants nothing more than to have enough time for a story before sleep, but Mama warns her: “If you help—no dilly, no dally—then we’ll have time for stories,” she says. Small Bear works hard to avoid temptations: snuggling in a cozy hole in a spruce tree, playing longer in the stream, and climbing higher in the tree. But Mama’s instruction helps Small Bear to stay on track and remember “to save time for stories.” Of course, Small Bear’s resistance to the kind of procrastination that would sink many others is rewarded with Mama’s best story, and sleep comes quickly. McGinty’s rhythmic prose and absolute mastery of pace elevate a simple story to something poetically potent. Jones’ deeply textured illustrations make every spruce sprig and, especially, the bears’ fur stand out beautifully. A standout spread rotates the book 90 degrees for a tall tree climb; it’s a delight, just like everything else in this expertly executed picture book. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-21-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Hibernation has rarely felt so well earned and enchanting. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-5227-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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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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