The lazy farmer thinks he's safe when he promises to help his wife with the farm work "on the day that pigs grow in trees like apples," but she outwits him at this and every turn—and Anita Lobel makes the treeful of happy, apple-chomping, rope-harnessed pigs a properly silly sight. As it was the farmer who wanted the pigs in the first place and the wife who expressed qualms about the work involved, it's all the more satisfying to witness her ultimate victory—she hides the pigs, then refuses to help him look for them until "the day that you jump out of bed, put on your clothes, and promise never to be lazy again." And as Arnold Lobel lets the pictures tell much of the story, it's all the more delightful to see, each time, how the clever wife deploys the pigs. Charmingly foolish but far from frivolous, this has the roots and home truth of a sturdy folk tale (say "The Little Red Hen")—plus the blooming, bright good humor of Anita Lobel's flowery farm, where at the finally industrious day's end "the farmer, the farmer's wife and the pigs sat down [together] to a delicious dinner of corn pudding and hot corn muffins." (Just one question: considering who does most of the work throughout, wouldn't "the farmer" and "the farmer's husband" be a likelier designation?)

Pub Date: April 2, 1979

ISBN: 0590412809

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1979

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Lit with sweetness.


Coco, who loves her gentle friend Bear, is shocked to learn that the other forest animals do not know about his kindness.

Inspired by one of her grandmother’s favorite maxims, Coco, a girl with light brown skin and curly brown hair, works with Bear to “share some kindness [and] bring some light” to the other animals in the forest. Interpreting it literally, the two make cookies (kindness) and lanterns (light) to share with the other animals. They trek through the snow-covered forest to deliver their gifts, but no one trusts Bear enough to accept them. As night begins to fall, Bear and Coco head home with the lanterns and cookies. On the way through the quiet forest, they hear a small voice pleading for help; it’s Baby Deer, stuck in the snow. They help free him, and Bear gives the young one a ride home on his back. When the other animals see both that Baby Deer is safe and that Bear is responsible for this, they begin to recognize all the wonderful things about Bear that they had not noticed before. The episode is weak on backstory—how did Coco and Bear become friends? Why don’t the animals know Bear better by now?—but Stott’s delicately inked and colored illustrations offer beguiling views of lightly anthropomorphized woodland critters that make it easy to move past these stumbling blocks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67% of actual size.)

Lit with sweetness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6238-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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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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