Good for storytimes on honesty and sharing…even if Monkey and Owl don’t have those concepts under their fur and feathers...

WHERE IS MY BALLOON?

Can Monkey be trusted to look after Owl’s balloon?

When Owl asks Monkey to hold their balloon, Monkey’s excited. Monkey puts the balloon in their toy sock. They tie the balloon to their sock. They hit the balloon with their sock…and the balloon pops. When Owl returns and asks for the balloon back, Monkey tries substituting other items, but neither the pillow, the chair, nor the fire engine tricks Owl. After Owl punctures all of Monkey’s prevarications, Monkey comes clean about the fate of Owl’s balloon. Owl is so angry that while Monkey is sobbing, Owl rips up Monkey’s sock! Now it’s Owl’s turn to substitute items. Bernstein and Magoon reteam for this second Owl and Monkey (and balloon) tale, following I Have a Balloon (2017), this time addressing owning up (eventually) to mistakes made. Fans of Elephant and Piggie will be right at home with the humor and the repartee (although the entirety of the text is dialogue, it is not in speech bubbles). Though the tale might not model best behavior, young listeners will identify with the two friends. Magoon’s digitally rendered illustrations are bright, dynamic, and expressive, with heavy lines, and they reinforce the characters’ emotions nicely. The two scenes where first Monkey and then Owl are overcome will have readers in stitches.

Good for storytimes on honesty and sharing…even if Monkey and Owl don’t have those concepts under their fur and feathers quite yet. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1451-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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