As comforting as a hot cup of tea, a scone, or the view from a double-decker bus on a beautiful sunny day.

MOTOR MOUSE DELIVERS

From the Motor Mouse series

This murine essential worker returns in three small stories packed full of charm.

Everyone’s favorite delivery mouse returns after his eponymous debut (2019) with tales as succinct as they are comforting. “The Radio Mystery Book” informs readers that Motor Mouse loves mysteries but doesn’t read them at bedtime because they keep him up at night. When a radio station starts playing an audiobook, a chapter a day, he discovers there’s more than one way to enjoy a good book. “Day of the Double-Decker” begins with tragedy (a motorcar in need of repairs) and quickly turns around when our hero finds that his public transportation system is “full of kindness.” Finally, “A Good Game of Croquet” shows what happens when peaceful intentions wreak havoc with Motor Mouse’s regular croquet game with his brother Valentino. Conveyed with Rylant’s customary charisma, the tone of these tales retains its light touch with familiar characters and safe, comfortable settings. The art takes great pleasure in the smallest details, such as Valentino, natty in straw hat and spectator shoes, or, in another scene, a keen example of what would happen if Andy Warhol had ever painted chickens.

As comforting as a hot cup of tea, a scone, or the view from a double-decker bus on a beautiful sunny day. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9128-0

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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