SNOW PONY AND THE SEVEN MINIATURE PONIES

An equine retelling of a classic fairy tale, with many, many twists.

Snow Pony is a stunning mare with a snow-white coat and a black, braided mane (hair braiding is one of her specialties—those are some clever hooves). She loves to put on shows with her favorite friend, Charmaine (a medium-tan gal with long black hair, also perfect for braiding). Children come for miles around to see the shows. Queenie, a dappled mare, is jealous of all the attention lavished on Snow Pony. She decides to trick her, leaving a trail of (nonpoisonous) apples leading out the gate, into the dark, scary forest. Snow Pony eats the apples and finds herself lost. But then she comes across a stable with seven tiny stalls. Interestingly, the story here takes a “Goldilocks” turn: Seven shaggy miniature ponies return to find someone has nibbled their hay, eaten 77 sugar cubes, and is asleep in their stall. The ponies introduce themselves (adults will get a chuckle out of the bespectacled tax-attorney pony). Snow Pony joins them for a while but misses Charmaine. They figure out a way back to the farm, and mean ol’ Queenie gets her comeuppance (a large glue bottle is a shocking clue until a page turn reveals the true ending). Sima’s ornate text-box frames and bountiful sparkles that follow Snow Pony add to the fairy-tale mystique.

Wryly magical. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6268-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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