Tip and Tucker are not Elephant and Piggie, but they’re cute and provide good practice for new readers.

ROAD TRIP

From the Tip and Tucker series

This beginning reader introduces children to two hamsters with quite different personalities.

Part of the I Am A Reader line, this first outing for Tip and Tucker opens in a pet shop, where Mr. Lopez has come to purchase a pet. Tucker, a larger tan hamster, is excited and tries to get Tip, a smaller gray-and-white hamster, interested. But Tip is the opposite of curious, adventurous Tucker, and he hides in his plastic igloo. Mr. Lopez purchases both hamsters, some food, and a cage. Tip gets even more nervous when the man tells Rosa (whether proprietor or clerk is unclear) that the hamsters’ new home will be noisy; he doesn’t like noisy. The trip to the car is bumpy, and the car ride is more of the same. But Tucker likes the look of their new home: It’s got blocks, jump ropes, balls, and lots of books. Mr. Lopez’s parting words raise more questions for the two—“See you tomorrow. Your first day of school!”—and set up the sequel. Short sentences in a fairly large font and repetition help make the text of this rather bland plot manageable for confident beginning readers, while Ceolin’s adorable illustrations give children clues and nicely show the contrast between nervous Tip and reassuring Tucker. Mr. Lopez and Rosa are probably both Latinx; he with light skin and glasses and she with brown skin.

Tip and Tucker are not Elephant and Piggie, but they’re cute and provide good practice for new readers. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-53411-006-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back.

TINY T. REX AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HUG

With such short arms, how can Tiny T. Rex give a sad friend a hug?

Fleck goes for cute in the simple, minimally detailed illustrations, drawing the diminutive theropod with a chubby turquoise body and little nubs for limbs under a massive, squared-off head. Impelled by the sight of stegosaurian buddy Pointy looking glum, little Tiny sets out to attempt the seemingly impossible, a comforting hug. Having made the rounds seeking advice—the dino’s pea-green dad recommends math; purple, New Age aunt offers cucumber juice (“That is disgusting”); red mom tells him that it’s OK not to be able to hug (“You are tiny, but your heart is big!”), and blue and yellow older sibs suggest practice—Tiny takes up the last as the most immediately useful notion. Unfortunately, the “tree” the little reptile tries to hug turns out to be a pterodactyl’s leg. “Now I am falling,” Tiny notes in the consistently self-referential narrative. “I should not have let go.” Fortunately, Tiny lands on Pointy’s head, and the proclamation that though Rexes’ hugs may be tiny, “I will do my very best because you are my very best friend” proves just the mood-lightening ticket. “Thank you, Tiny. That was the biggest hug ever.” Young audiences always find the “clueless grown-ups” trope a knee-slapper, the overall tone never turns preachy, and Tiny’s instinctive kindness definitely puts him at (gentle) odds with the dinky dino star of Bob Shea’s Dinosaur Vs. series.

Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7033-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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