A zany, hilarious first in a planned trilogy.

ONE MEAN ANT

An irascible ant becomes lost in the desert until an upbeat fly arrives.

This ant is mean: “so mean, grapes would shrivel and turn into raisins when he looked at them.” He bosses everybody around, too. So preoccupied with this activity is he, the ant finds himself completely lost in the desert. Ranting and raving, he complains that there’s “no water in this stinkpot place.” A fly lands, and the ant stresses their dire situation, but the cheerful fly’s inexplicably immune to the ant’s histrionics. When the fly removes a pine needle from the ant’s side (not previously visible in the illustrations), the ant suddenly feels different (“good” and “thankful” don’t come naturally). The insects exit the desert in tandem, with the fly forging optimistically ahead and the ant yelling warnings. Ruzzier’s distinctive cartoon illustrations utilize fine black outlines and pastel-hued washes to render the ant and fly with exaggerated facial expressions and body language. With his beady eyes, twisted antennae, snarling mouth, flailing legs, and diminutive red body, the ant certainly looks mean while the larger, blue-green fly with his gossamer wings and goofy, gap-toothed grin appears an affable, unflappable foil against a background of empty desert and open sky. Readers will delight in the silly antics and wacky wordplay of these unlikely companions just as much as they’ll enjoy the conversational, tall-tale voice adopted by the narrator.

A zany, hilarious first in a planned trilogy. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8394-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more