A sensitive, atmospheric story depicting the fragility and rewards of friendship.

THE TALE OF THE TINY MAN

The protagonist mourns his friendless status in this tale by two longtime Swedish collaborators.

Originally published by R and S Books (1992), this version has a larger trim size and updated illustrations, although the diminutive man retains his tan coat, brown hat, and chubby cheeks. He is a lonely figure, sitting on his front steps, wishing for a companion. Dogs and old men are mean to him: “People thought he was too small and possibly a bit slow.” He creates a sign advertising for a friend and waits patiently outside. On the 10th night, he awakens to find a dog nuzzling his hand. Lindgren and Eriksson slowly build interactions of mutual delight: playful roughhousing, bedtime arrangements (dog in bed; man in dresser drawer), shared meals. The bare trees of winter silhouetted against a gray sky yield to dancing flowers surrounded by a warm, green landscape. The dog’s antics, e.g., peeing on the fence, will amuse young viewers, just as the sad moments will touch them. All is well (there is even payback to the bullies) until a little girl visits. Three is a perilous number in relationships, and the man flees to the forest, where “[h]is tears fell like pearls on the moss.” When the man returns home to investigate, a joyful reunion ensues, and the trio figures out how to abide together. The man and the girl are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sensitive, atmospheric story depicting the fragility and rewards of friendship. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-77657-409-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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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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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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