This quiet tale’s beguiling details may well draw even action-oriented children in long enough that they hear its message

THE PEAR VIOLIN

A squirrel, a pear, and a violin form the key elements in this unusual story that expresses how music can bring a community together.

When a squirrel finds a pear on the ground, he cuts it in two, eating just half because the whole is too big to eat. So the squirrel makes a violin out of the other half. He begins to play, and the music is so sweet that the animals in the forest stop to listen. The fox leaves off chasing the chicken, and the lion pauses his pursuit of the rabbit. Each predator says, “What beautiful music. Let’s stop and listen,” and even begins to cuddle with his respective prey. Soon the forest is peaceful and quiet, filled with the enchantment of the music. When a seed from the pear falls to the ground, it grows into a huge tree filled with all sizes of pears that the squirrel shares with the animals, even the “teeny tiny beetles,” who make their own cellos, violas, and violins. (What the carnivores decide to eat in this music-filled community goes unexplored.) The brightly colored illustrations have the look of mid-20th-century animation and incorporate small, charming details. Both author and illustrator are Chinese, and the book makes its way to North America via New Zealand. The story is gentle and lacking in dramatic appeal, though the idea of turning a pear into a violin is whimsical, and the peaceable kingdom that results is a winningly depicted one.

This quiet tale’s beguiling details may well draw even action-oriented children in long enough that they hear its message . (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-76036-020-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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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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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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