Like its protagonist, this book tries hard to be endearing.

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ADORABULL

A perplexed bull ponders the secret of being cute.

Human Tom and bull Alfred have grown up together on a farm, forming a tight friendship. When Tom starts school, Alfred is bored. Then, betrayal: Tom announces he needs a pet that is “absolutely, totally… / …adorable!” Alfred, with his shaggy brown fur and boulder of a body, immediately takes offense. He looks up “adorable” on the farmer’s borrowed phone and finds pictures of fluffy animals in aww-inspiring escapades. Alfred tries to imitate them, with destructive success. Sill stumped, Alfred takes a trip to the hair salon (where readers can see some racial diversity beyond Tom’s white family) for “a new look” that involves lots of curls and bows, but he receives laughter for his troubles. Then Tom offers the discouraged bull a gift: a white kitten! It turns out that Tom’s intention was to give Alfred a friend so he wouldn’t be lonely. As a pair, the animals are “adorable.” The unaffected text never overwhelms the pictures and could offer a transition into independent reading with mostly easily decoded vocabulary. Intentionally juvenile-looking pictures are as rough as Alfred’s temper and as unrefined as his perception of the situation. The characters’ small hands and hooves as well as simplified facial features (small black dots and lines) make them all nonthreatening, matching the book’s sentiment.

Like its protagonist, this book tries hard to be endearing. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-84886-412-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Maverick Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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