A gentle, empathetic tribute to the value of reaching out to welcome a new friend.

ON THE NIGHT OF THE SHOOTING STAR

Bunny and Dog live solitary, parallel lives in adjacent homes until their shared glimpse of a shooting star engenders a new and steadfast friendship.

Each tidy lakeside home, separated by a fence, is appointed with décor that reflects its inhabitant. Bunny’s house—blue, like her—contains such lapine accoutrements as rabbit-shaped salt-and-pepper shakers and a framed portrait of three carrots. Bunny ears pop up often: on the loft bed’s headboard, the lamp, and the cocoa cups. Sharp-eyed kids might notice the reading chair’s fluffy white “tail.” Dog’s abode is similarly cozy in his signature red, with a portable radio, a rug woven with a border of dogs, and a goodly supply of biscuits. As the animals engage in solo pursuits, from knitting (Dog) and drawing (Bunny) to cultivating twin gardens, they steal furtive glances at each other. Sleepless and outdoors on a moonlit night, each deduces that the other needs a friend. Their mutual, ephemeral experience—witnessing the shooting star—fuels their new relationship, as they share meals and pastimes together. Hest’s gentle subtext seems to say, “Life is short. Engage; connect.” Desmond’s mixed-media illustrations juxtapose simply rendered animals, charming household details, and lovely full-bleed expanses of starry sky and moonlit lake.

A gentle, empathetic tribute to the value of reaching out to welcome a new friend. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9154-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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