Marvelous fun. (Picture book. 3-8)

ONE DAY IN THE EUCALYPTUS, EUCALYPTUS TREE

A dark-skinned “boy with a whirly-twirly toy” skips through the forest, unaware of the snake lurking in the eucalyptus tree.

That sneaky snake gobbles up the boy and his toy. From deep inside “the belly dark and deep” the intrepid boy repeats a refrain suggesting that the snake is still hungry and should eat something else, as there is certainly more room in its tummy. Finding a plethora of animals in the double-named tree, the snake eats a bird with a worm and, encouraged further, proceeds to gobble a cat, a sloth, a bear, and an entire hive filled with bees. Finally, goaded by the boy, he swallows a small piece of fruit, complete with fly. The hugely engorged snake can hold no more and gurgles and belches out all the creatures it has swallowed, including the little boy, who goes merrily on his way with his toy, leaving the snake with a massive tummy ache. Bernstrom’s spritely language rhythmically sings an exciting, laugh-filled, cumulative story. Bold, large print highlights the events as the snake slides, wiggles, and twists while the animals crinkle, munch, and buzz. Wenzel’s wildly imaginative, brightly hued digital illustrations are a wonderfully goofy complement to the action, whether depicting the goings-on in the dark tummy or the creatures’ idiosyncrasies and their bug-eyed surprise as they are consumed.

Marvelous fun. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-235485-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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