A nifty, expectation-defying read-aloud.

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BEAR AND SQUIRREL ARE FRIENDS...YES, REALLY!

They might look very different, but Bear and Squirrel are friends.

They both like to gather blueberries and acorns for supper. Bear helps Squirrel build his home in a tree. Squirrel helps Bear keep his den clean (fluffy tails make great dusters). And both of them enjoy playing games. Squirrel’s squirrel friends ask Squirrel if he is worried Bear might eat him for a snack. “Don’t be silly!” Squirrel scoffs. Bear’s friends suggest that Bear might find Squirrel a tasty snack. “That’s ridiculous!” Then Bear settles in for a long winter nap, and his friend settles in to wait, knitting a prodigious scarf as he does so. When Bear finally wakes up, they’re glad to see each other…but they seem different. Bear looks very toothy, and Squirrel—well, Squirrel looks delicious. To the starved Bear, Squirrel actually looks rather a lot like a cupcake. Bear just can’t help himself. There’s much chomping and chewing, and Bear apologizes…for eating all the pancakes. Whew. Graphic designer Pilutti presents an unconventional friendship tale in a mix of full-bleed and spot illustrations with a smattering of dialogue bubbles that fit seamlessly into the story. The muted palette and flat, cartoon style work well with the silly, affirmative tale.

A nifty, expectation-defying read-aloud. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2913-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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