With its gentle morals of acceptance, not judging by appearances, and being open to outcomes different than expectations,...

ONCE UPON A GOAT

A picture-book fable featuring a king, a queen, a fairy godmother, and…a goat?

In this sweet and playful fable, a royal couple wishes hopefully for a child. While they claim “we’re not particular,” they also present their fairy godmother with a wish list that their child have “glowing skin, bright eyes, and hair like ocean waves” and preferably be a boy, “but any kid will do.” She gets to work, and on the next full moon the king and queen receive the answer to their wishes—but it’s a goat and not the perfect human boy they were expecting. Disappointment turns to despair before despair turns to delight as this unusual trio becomes a loving and happy family. When they are ultimately given the opportunity to correct the “misunderstanding” and swap their beloved goat for a human child, the royal parents arrive at a creative solution. The smoothly paced illustrations are nicely varied among vignettes, full pages, and double-page spreads. The artwork is rich with traditional fairy-tale motifs, and the austere lines of the palace contrast amusingly with the chaos brought by the goat child. While it has a small cast of human and humanoid characters, all of them present white.

With its gentle morals of acceptance, not judging by appearances, and being open to outcomes different than expectations, this is a lovely family read-aloud. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7374-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history.

WOODLAND DREAMS

A sonorous, soporific invitation to join woodland creatures in bedding down for the night.

As in her Moon Babies, illustrated by Amy Hevron (2019), Jameson displays a rare gift for harmonious language and rhyme. She leads off with a bear: “Come home, Big Paws. / Berry picker / Honey trickster / Shadows deepen in the glen. / Lumber back inside your den.” Continuing in the same pattern, she urges a moose (“Velvet Nose”), a deer (“Tiny Hooves”), and a succession of ever smaller creatures to find their nooks and nests as twilight deepens in Boutavant’s woodsy, autumnal scenes and snow begins to drift down. Through each of those scenes quietly walks an alert White child (accompanied by an unusually self-controlled pooch), peering through branches or over rocks at the animals in the foregrounds and sketching them in a notebook. The observer’s turn comes round at last, as a bearded parent beckons: “This way, Small Boots. / Brave trailblazer / Bright stargazer / Cabin’s toasty. Blanket’s soft. / Snuggle deep in sleeping loft.” The animals go unnamed, leaving it to younger listeners to identify each one from the pictures…if they can do so before the verses’ murmurous tempo closes their eyes.

Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7063-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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