Open Bearnard’s book for an alternative concept of bravery with humor, sweetness, and friendship at the core.

BEARNARD'S BOOK

Bearnard gets the chance to be in a book and must embrace his sense of self in the process.

“I have always wanted to be in a book!” declares Bearnard as he reads his invitation from the Queen of Storybook Land. The anthropomorphic (though unclothed) bear imagines his story being read by children (with diverse skin tones) at bedtime, in school, or on the playground. Illustrator Saburi’s chunky black outlines couple with cozy pink, blue, and brown fills, making for relaxing illustrations that nevertheless pop. Most spreads contain a gentle floral wallpaper pattern in the background, building a homey feel, bolstered by bold typeface reminiscent of handwriting. Bearnard brainstorms with duck friend Gertie about the possibility of being a knight, an astronaut, or “Super Bear!” in the storybook. This provides an entry point for caregivers to engage with children about what they would be if starring in a book. Bearnard’s confidence waffles as he tries to emulate classic bear stories without success. Gertie guides Bearnard to see himself as brave and worthy just by being himself. Underwood’s social-emotional narrative and the action-oriented illustrations allow for layered reading—if a child is not ready to discuss what might make them brave, they will most certainly be entertained by the imaginative adventures of Bearnard and Gertie.

Open Bearnard’s book for an alternative concept of bravery with humor, sweetness, and friendship at the core. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62779-757-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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