Look elsewhere to learn about sloth behavior, punctuality, and how to be a good friend to someone who’s different from you.

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SMILE, BREATHE, AND GO SLOWLY

SLUMBY THE SLOTH GOES TO SCHOOL

Think your school mornings are hectic?

Slumby and his sloth family take things very slowly, which is fine until he starts school. A double-page spread with small scenes marked by an analog clock showing different times depicts Slumby’s morning rush. Those who can tell time will be astounded at just how long his routine takes him; even beginning at 3:45 a.m., he’s still a half-day late to school, just in time for recess. But Slumby does everything so slowly that he can’t jump rope, participate in the turtle race, or play armadillo ball (yep, that’s what it sounds like). Sad, he spends his recesses observing the butterflies that constantly surround him (á la Pigpen’s dirt in “Peanuts”) until the day the armadillo lands in the river with a hungry crocodile. It’s Slumby to the rescue! Though the book doesn’t provide this fact, sloths can swim up to three times as fast as they can walk on land. Whether that’s fast enough to effect a rescue from a crocodile is debatable, but regardless, Slumby’s classmates are now willing to change their activities so the hero sloth can be included. While the title and cover may bring to mind meditation, this is not a mindfulness book but one about a unique newcomer who’s accepted only once he proves his worth. Angaramo’s adorable cartoon animals wear clothing and have pleasingly mobile expressions. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31% of actual size.)

Look elsewhere to learn about sloth behavior, punctuality, and how to be a good friend to someone who’s different from you. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4246-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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