An uncomplicated tale of consideration and cooperation rendered in an accessible format.

DON'T EAT THAT

How do you teach a grown bear new tricks?

An intrepid young bird-watcher in pursuit of a Scouting merit badge decides to help a bear find a snack in this whimsical tale. “DON’T EAT THAT!!!” Gertie explodes when she sees it about to chomp on a rock. Thanks to frontmatter illustrations, readers know what she does not: The bear has been dropped off by the city zoo and so doesn’t know how to function in the woods. Comic-strip panels alternate with full- or double-page spreads, with the text largely confined to dialogue bubbles, while cartoony Photoshop illustrations carry most of the story. Basic efforts at communication between the two prove problematic, and the bear’s lack of woods savvy (it tries to eat a skunk) and skills (it can’t swim) don’t help either. Puns abound as multiple efforts by the protagonist fail to come to fruition. The two end up far from happy, and Gertie starts to realize that her help may not be so helpful after all. Surely they can work together so that it can learn to fill its tummy! While there is little wholly original here, the messages of friendship and teamwork are portrayed nicely, the minimal text will appeal to reluctant readers, and youngsters will come away with a chuckle. Gertie has blonde hair and pale skin.

An uncomplicated tale of consideration and cooperation rendered in an accessible format. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-99729-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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