A sweet celebration of friendship and the drama of kindergarten

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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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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