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FOREST DREAM

Beautiful—but imbalanced.

A child follows a rabbit and discovers a wooded wonderland.

The opening illustration doesn’t depict the rabbit, but the first-person narrator describes it, saying he is “carrying a sack in his mouth.” The narrator follows the rabbit to “a bare, forgotten patch of land.” Other rabbits appear with their own sacks, from which they take acorns that they bury in the ground. The exquisite watercolors are evocative of Lisbeth Zwerger’s work, though with a naturalist’s attention to detail that also brings to mind Nancy Eckholm Burkert’s style in spreads showing songbirds, squirrels, a moon bear, and then various insects all bringing seeds to the barren land. These gorgeous pictures outshine the labored text, which seems to take a fantastic turn when the narrator falls asleep and awakens to see that a forest has grown up all around. Stunning, wordless spreads follow, depicting fish swimming through the air, the moon bear delicately holding a fork to spear an acorn, and other fantastic sights. A voice from the forest tells the child: “This is how the forest could be in a hundred years.” It turns out that the child’s vision of the forest was a dream, after all; upon truly awaking, the child resolves to make that dream-vision a reality and plants acorns in the ground. The child presents East Asian.

Beautiful—but imbalanced. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-988-8341-64-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: minedition

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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. 28, 2018

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