A shell of a good time.

READ REVIEW

SNAIL CROSSING

Why did the snail cross the road? Cabbage. How? That’s another story.

While “scooting around” one day, Snail spots a field of scrumptious cabbage on the other side of a dangerous road. The self-assured gastropod approaches the obstacle with a can-do attitude: “Well, you won’t stop me!” After traveling for some time—and generating a glistening trail of slime—Snail decides to take a break. Just then, a vehicle in the distance zooms closer. Snail narrowly avoids it. Further perils and delays arise, but the “cabbage bound” hero slimes his way out of them all. Despite all the stress, Snail keeps it kind: He invites a “troop of rowdy ants” inside his shell (and his vintage-decorated living room) to take shelter from the rain. But between the tea and other distractions, will Snail ever make it to his lunch? Though snail-centric, Tabor’s story is far from snail’s pace: Deft shifts between double- and single-page spreads and other visual cues heighten the drama of the fraught adventure. The cartoon illustrations digitally combine pencil, watercolor, and ink to create beautiful textures. Careful readers may see a visual mismatch between the more-detailed spreads and those set against a white background (e.g., how big is Snail’s shell home anyway?). Still, Tabor (of 2019 Geisel-winning Fox the Tiger fame) shines; his clever reversal of expectations will replace any skepticism with a fit of giggles.

A shell of a good time. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-287800-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Lit with sweetness.

SHARE SOME KINDNESS, BRING SOME LIGHT

Coco, who loves her gentle friend Bear, is shocked to learn that the other forest animals do not know about his kindness.

Inspired by one of her grandmother’s favorite maxims, Coco, a girl with light brown skin and curly brown hair, works with Bear to “share some kindness [and] bring some light” to the other animals in the forest. Interpreting it literally, the two make cookies (kindness) and lanterns (light) to share with the other animals. They trek through the snow-covered forest to deliver their gifts, but no one trusts Bear enough to accept them. As night begins to fall, Bear and Coco head home with the lanterns and cookies. On the way through the quiet forest, they hear a small voice pleading for help; it’s Baby Deer, stuck in the snow. They help free him, and Bear gives the young one a ride home on his back. When the other animals see both that Baby Deer is safe and that Bear is responsible for this, they begin to recognize all the wonderful things about Bear that they had not noticed before. The episode is weak on backstory—how did Coco and Bear become friends? Why don’t the animals know Bear better by now?—but Stott’s delicately inked and colored illustrations offer beguiling views of lightly anthropomorphized woodland critters that make it easy to move past these stumbling blocks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67% of actual size.)

Lit with sweetness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6238-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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