A sweet celebration of friendship and the drama of kindergarten

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AMANDA PANDA AND THE BIGGER, BETTER BIRTHDAY

Amanda Panda is ecstatic about having the first birthday in her kindergarten, but when her best friend’s birthday threatens to outshine hers, they must find a way to work it out.

Amanda Panda is “special” because she has the first birthday in her class, and she will be “famous” for being the first to turn 6. Her birthday is tomorrow, but when she goes out to the bus with her party invitations in hand, she discovers that Bitsy’s birthday is today! Throughout Bitsy’s birthday celebration at school, Amanda broods—she does not want a “leftover song” or “leftover cupcakes” on “her special day.” Their birthday parties are planned for the same day, too—Saturday—which makes things so bad that they stop speaking to each other. But Amanda and Bitsy quickly find that they miss each other and don’t want to miss each other’s birthday parties. They find a solution that pleases both of them as well as all their friends. Grove’s illustrations in watercolor and ink create endearing pandas in festive scenes with a pastel palette. Amanda Panda’s emotional roller coaster rings true, and the revived friendship is delightful. It may not be the most original story, but as long as children’s emotions run high, it is one that doesn’t get old.

A sweet celebration of friendship and the drama of kindergarten . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6819-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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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Daddy-and-child dog lovers can try some of these canine ways of expressing affection.

DADDIES ARE AWESOME

Puppies celebrate the many ways their dads are awesome.

“Daddies are playful. / They swing you around. // You ride on their shoulders / or hang upside down.” The first spread pictures a scruffy pup, mouth clamped on its dad’s tail, hanging. The second features a long dachshund, his four pups using the large expanse of his back as a jungle gym or resting spot. The husky dad is labeled as daring, brave, and strong, while the hound takes his pup on adventures (digging and hiding under a bush). Other dog dads give kisses and tickles, tell bedtime stories and help count sheep (a stuffed toy), and help their pups grow (challenging them with stairs and carrying them when the going gets tough). Lovšin creatively interprets some of the text that applies well to kids but not so well to canines: dad and pup at each end of a long stick held in their mouths is the dog equivalent of holding hands. Though many dog breeds will be familiar, some are just mutts, though all are shown caring for and enjoying the company of their offspring. White backgrounds keep the focus on the dogs.

Daddy-and-child dog lovers can try some of these canine ways of expressing affection. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-452-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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