Listeners who enjoy old-fashioned animal stories will appreciate Watts’ gentle, whimsical tone, pastoral setting and sweet...

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WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND?

A small group of anthropomorphized woodland creatures have a mild adventure and make a new friend (sort of) in this low-key tale.

Watts’ delicate illustrations offer glimpses of cozy burrows, cold, snowy vistas and portraits of charming creatures. Executed in what appears to be pen and colored pencil, they provide plenty to look at, including a variety of actions and characters not mentioned in the text. In one corner of a double-page spread, a small hedgehog runs away clutching a squash. On a different spread, two hedgehogs and three bunnies build a snowman while a mouse in a red hat skis by. Unfortunately, young listeners will likely feel that Watts’ narrative is not nearly as engaging as her pictures. The long, rambling story takes place over several seasons. The central section follows willful Little Jack Rabbit as he and two friends get stuck outside overnight by a snowstorm. The animals survive because the whistling wind blows down a scarecrow, and his coat covers them, keeping them warm. How intentional the scarecrow’s actions are is open to interpretation, though the final page implies that he is alive, alert and able to experience emotions.

Listeners who enjoy old-fashioned animal stories will appreciate Watts’ gentle, whimsical tone, pastoral setting and sweet conclusion, but for many, time spent poring over the pictures will be more rewarding—and enjoyable. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4117-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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PUG BLASTS OFF

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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