Another appealing adventure for this delightful duo, just right for a Christmas Eve storytime, perhaps enjoyed with a plate...

A CHRISTMAS FOR BEAR

From the Bear and Mouse Adventures series

In their sixth adventure together, best friends Bear and Mouse celebrate Christmas with pickles, a poem, and presents.

Bear invites Mouse to their first-ever Christmas party, although Bear knows only what he’s read about how Christmas is celebrated. He announces that eating pickles and “reading a long and difficult poem” (“A Visit from St. Nicholas”) should be enough for their party, but Mouse is most interested in the possibility of presents. Grumpy Bear pretends to reject the notion: “Monstrous assumption!” Ever hopeful, Mouse repeatedly escapes from Bear to search the house for gifts, finally locating his Christmas stocking with a tiny telescope tucked inside. Taking the telescope outside to view the night sky leads to a search for Bear’s present, a huge sled that Mouse has somehow hidden under a snow-covered tree. In a satisfying conclusion, Bear and Mouse gleefully sled down a hill “under the shining stars of Christmas.” Bear’s curmudgeonly personality and Mouse’s cheerful antics provide droll humor conveyed with polished comedic pacing and clever phrases such as “a mournful bite of pickle.” Soft-focus illustrations in watercolor, ink, and gouache are particularly strong in the subtle expressions on the animal faces as well as in meeting the design challenge of including a huge bear and a tiny mouse in one environment.

Another appealing adventure for this delightful duo, just right for a Christmas Eve storytime, perhaps enjoyed with a plate of pickles. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4923-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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