An accessible and enjoyable portrayal of the complexities of friendship, jealousy, and forgiveness.

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THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG, AND THE FIDDLE

Hector, an older white man, and Hugo, a scruffy white dog, have been friends for a very long time.

Hector’s passion is playing the fiddle, but the times have changed around him. His music doesn’t draw much attention these days—the audiences are flocking instead to the ursine virtuoso introduced in The Bear and the Piano (2016). Hector decides to retire. Hugo isn’t ready to let go of the music, though, so he picks up Hector’s fiddle and starts to play. To Hector’s surprise, Hugo is good…very good! Soon Hugo is getting the admiration and opportunity that Hector always dreamed of but never found. He supports his friend yet feels pangs of jealousy when Hugo is invited on tour with the world-famous piano-playing bear. In his jealousy, Hector says some hurtful things he may not be able to take back. By using concrete language to describe Hector’s feelings (“Hector’s tummy hurt a bit when he saw everyone in the neighborhood nodding along”) and behaviors (“Hugo put his head on Hector’s knee, but Hector pushed him away”), Litchfield makes real and palpable the abstract concept of jealousy and its consequences. The same emotive tenderness that characterized his earlier debut imbues this sequel. There is much to explore, discuss, and ponder over for adults and children alike.

An accessible and enjoyable portrayal of the complexities of friendship, jealousy, and forgiveness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-59589-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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