Fans will doubtless be happy to revisit old friends, but they will probably still reach for the original more than this once...


Thirty-one years after a wakeful flea roused the heaped-up sleepers in The Napping House, a full moon finds the household struggling to get back to sleep.

“There is a house, / a full-moon house, / where everyone is restless,” from “sleepless granny” to “fidgety child” to “playful dog” to “prowling cat” to “worried mouse.” Don Wood’s acrylics re-create the familiar bedroom with a deep blue, nighttime palette. Though the house’s denizens are restless, its furniture oozes sleepiness, the comfortably rounded bedsteads and chair back slumping forward slightly in sympathy with the granny, who is clearly desperate to get some shut-eye. In this visit to the familiar house, a “chirping cricket” finally settles everyone down with a “full-moon song” until “no one now is restless.” Audrey Wood’s cumulative story takes the same pattern as in the previous book, a mirroring that its fans will instantly recognize but that works against this follow-up’s concept. The sonorous lines are almost identical to those that describe the sleepers in the first book, but they do not conjure restlessness; moreover, as the cricket’s song works its magic and sends the characters to sleep, the page turns speed up instead of slowing down for a far-from-sleepy effect. Don Wood wisely eschews the temptation to replicate the first book’s humorously indelible image of sleeper piled upon sleeper, instead varying composition and perspective slightly with each double-page spread to create a gentle turbulence that slows down gradually as the characters calm.

Fans will doubtless be happy to revisit old friends, but they will probably still reach for the original more than this once the novelty wears off. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-30832-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Hee haw.

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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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The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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