An avian revision of a classic rhyme that soars.

READ REVIEW

THIS IS THE NEST THAT ROBIN BUILT

A mother robin builds a nest with a little help from nearby creatures.

It starts with the squirrel, “who trimmed the twigs, not too big, / that anchor the nest that Robin built.” Then the dog brings string, the horse shares straw, the pig mixes mud, and so on. It’s a riff on the classic rhyme “This Is the House That Jack Built,” but Fleming keeps the text fresh with additional rhyming adjectives. Whether “not too big,” “long and strong,” or “soft not soupy,” each new item Robin receives has its own specifications. Thus, the cumulative story expertly reinforces narrative comprehension while also building vocabulary. Fleming combines her signature printmaking techniques with collage to make beautifully textured illustrations filled with natural tones and repeated patterns. The creatures are mostly to scale, some fitting within the book and some extending beyond its pages. Though the animals change with each page turn, readers will enjoy spotting the tiny ladybugs hidden in each illustration. The narrow portrait trim size expands with a final gatefold that flips the structure of the verse to conclude with the new, “rumpled and ruffled” fledglings flying away—a satisfying conclusion.

An avian revision of a classic rhyme that soars. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3083-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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