Parental love, sound ecological advice, and breathtaking illustrations all in one.

YOU'RE SNUG WITH ME

Starting with their birth in a den below the snowdrifts, Mama Bear nurtures her cubs and describes the world they will encounter in the spring.

The mother polar bear tells them that they will walk “where the land will let us walk” and “As long as the ice stays frozen, we will never go hungry.” The sea creatures pictured in this spread are recognizable but also almost phantasmagorical in the intricate designs, full of lines and dots inspired by traditional Indian art and looking beautiful here in this very different setting. Pictures full of stars and snowflakes swirl. “Terns and geese fly through the skies.” The rhythmic quality of their undulating forms is quite striking, and it mirrors the sonorous text. Mama gives her young ones lessons, good for human children (and adults) as well as polar bears: “We should only ever take what we need.” In telling them about the ocean and the land, the darkness of winter and the light of summer, the animals all around them, and their need to become independent after she has taught them all she knows, she reassuringly repeats the refrain: “But hush now, you’re snug with me.” In a note to readers, the author provides some additional facts about polar bears and urges everyone to be good stewards of the Earth.

Parental love, sound ecological advice, and breathtaking illustrations all in one. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911373-47-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lantana

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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