USED-UP BEAR

This story of a well-loved, fraying stuffed toy features a protagonist suffering heartbreaking sadness and misery. An endearing stuffed bear takes stock of his deterioration and has childlike fears that he will soon be discarded. The terrors of being in the basement, tossed in a thrift-shop sale, or becoming a dust rag overwhelm him. During Bear’s efforts to avoid becoming more worn, the newer stuffed toys cruelly predict his fate. Readers will be riveted; Bear’s anxiety is almost unbearable, so he goes to the garbage can, to wait to be picked up. His owner, Clara, retrieves him and produces a splendid red suit, designed to preserve and protect him. Carmichael (Bear at the Beach, 1996) strikes a chord with children or anyone else who has kept quiet about a source of fear. The spare illustrations present clean, focused scenes; each one highlights the crucial emotion or situation portrayed. In candy colors of blue, lilac, and yellow, the pictures realize all the frightening possibilities a bear can dream up. A joyous ending, in which Bear admires himself “all morning in the mirror,” brings great relief, as well as a message of love and loyalty. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-55858-901-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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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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JOHN PHILIP DUCK

Edward and his father work for the Peabody Hotel in Memphis since the Depression has brought hard times for so many. On weekends they return to their farm in the hills and it’s there Edward finds John Philip Duck, named for the composer whose marches Edward listens to on the radio. Edward has to look after the scrawny duckling during the week, so he risks the ire of the hotel manager by taking John Philip with him. The expected occurs when Mr. Shutt finds the duckling. The blustery manager makes Edward a deal. If Edward can train John Philip to swim in the hotel fountain all day (and lure in more customers), Edward and the duck can stay. After much hard work, John Philip learns to stay put and Edward becomes the first Duck Master at the hotel. This half-imagined story of the first of the famous Peabody Hotel ducks is one of Polacco’s most charming efforts to date. Her signature illustrations are a bit brighter and full of the music of the march. An excellent read aloud for older crowds, but the ever-so-slightly anthropomorphic ducks will come across best shared one-on-one. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-399-24262-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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