THIS WAY, CHARLIE

A standoffish goat forms a unique bond with a partially blind horse.

Jack, a solitary goat, lives at Open Bud Ranch, where “all kinds” of animals come for space to “heal, rest, and grow.” Jack, who likes “keeping his space to himself,” is initially irritated when a horse named Charlie arrives, accidentally invading that space. Gradually, Jack realizes Charlie’s blind in one eye. He watches Charlie greet everyone, sniff honeysuckles, and follow sunlit patches—but also bump into things and seem lost, scared, even lonely. One day, Jack beckons him: “This way, Charlie,” guiding Charlie to his favorite grazing field. Soon Jack leads Charlie everywhere, and they become friends. After Charlie loses sight in his other eye, Jack simply moves closer to lead Charlie on their walks. Despite Charlie’s urging, injuries from Jack’s abused past prevent him from engaging other animals until Charlie’s in danger and Jack must ask others for help. Inspired by a real-life relationship between a horse and a goat at an Oklahoma wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center, this gentle story’s positive messages about patience, kindness, and friendship are reinforced in soft illustrations that resemble impressionistic watercolors. Touching scenes of isolationist Jack watching Charlie from a distance gradually give way to upbeat scenes of Jack actively leading Charlie into a mutually healing friendship.

Memorable and moving. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4206-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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