A solid choice on how to overcome isolation and learn to make friends.

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BEAR'S WINTER PARTY

Woe is Bear.

Bear lives alone in the forest. There are many other animals there, but they are all afraid of him, and so he has no friends. Summer and fall both pass by slowly, and it’s just about time for Bear’s long winter sleep when he decides to remedy his situation—he will have a party! Inventive and appealing watercolors and the chatty yet straightforward text combine nicely as Bear writes out invitations and delivers them to Deer, Beaver, Fox, Chickadee, Hare, and Squirrel. The afternoon of the event goes by without any visitors, and Bear is just about to give up hope when the animals tentatively peek in. Refreshments are served, followed by dancing, and everyone has a rollicking good time. By the end of the party, Bear’s generosity and kindness have made him some new friends, and he knows he will wake up to a bright future come spring. Some suspension of belief is necessary here; the animals’ initial fear is certainly justified, as bears do feed on some of these creatures, but the story’s lively charm and warmth overcome this hiccup. Cinar’s digitally finished watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations are reminiscent of Chris Raschka’s in their splashy ebullience and brushy lines.

A solid choice on how to overcome isolation and learn to make friends. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55498-853-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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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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