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HENRIETTA HEDGEHOG'S PRICKLY PROBLEM

A sweet animal tale that encourages young readers to love what makes them unique.

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Roman, the award-winning children’s book author, presents a charming picture book about friendship and embracing difference.

Henrietta Hedgehog doesn’t want to go to school, because the other animals make fun of her quills and think they’re scary. Once she gets there, she puts on a mask that makes her look just like Bella Beaver. However, Bella thinks that Henrietta’s making fun of her because of the mask’s big teeth; in addition, Henrietta finds that her mask doesn’t even stop the teasing. At recess, Bella confesses to Henrietta that she wishes she had sharp quills to protect her from kids who make fun of her. This admission encourages other animals to step forward with what makes them targets of teasing, including Spencer Squirrel’s “Squeaky” nickname and Wally Weasel’s short legs. Finally, Dylan Deer shares his mom’s assertion that what makes us different makes us beautiful. Henrietta’s “prickly problem,” expressed in Arkova’s bold, colorful cartoon illustrations and Roman’s simple prose, is one that is certain to resonate with children who may be nervous about their own differences. The message of social acceptance is laid out clearly and quickly. Overall, this is a book that’s likely to spark meaningful conversations between younger and older people—a worthy goal for any kids’ book.

A sweet animal tale that encourages young readers to love what makes them unique.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9781950080083

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chelshire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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