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BIKE ON, BEAR!

This pivotal childhood milestone is often defined by fear, but this variant is for young brooders everywhere.

Bear can do anything he puts his mind to—except ride a bike.

Bear is a whiz at facts and figures. He can do a backward pike somersault on the balance beam. But every time he tries to ride his bike, even with training wheels, he falls or crashes. Bear just can’t do it. The situation worsens when a park opens in town, and Bear can’t join his friends on the new bike path, which arbitrarily and unkindly bans training wheels. (This is helpful to the plot, though.) Everyone is having fun without him. So Bear does what any desperate, lumpy little fellow like him should do—he goes to the library in search of answers. A book tells him how to ride a bike in four easy steps. The last step is the most important: don’t think about it too much. But Bear can’t stop thinking about it. He mulls it over and worries until everything becomes a disaster, even his triple back-paw-spring. Luckily, a sudden meteorological disaster (sharp readers will spot a hint in Koala’s newspaper) helps Bear spring into action and overcome his fears—without stopping to think! Bear’s supportive friends and family, along with Litten’s warm-hued, cozy illustrations, drape the story in comfort, even during Bear’s many tumbles and spills.

This pivotal childhood milestone is often defined by fear, but this variant is for young brooders everywhere. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0506-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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