A good addition to the growing shelf of facial-hair fables; themes of conservation and friendship are a plus.

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THE LUMBERJACK'S BEARD

Jim Hickory, a lumberjack with a guilty conscience, opens his beard to a trio of forest refugees.

Jim the lumberjack has a strict but comforting routine: limbering-up exercises, big pancake breakfast, and a day of chopping trees before a relaxing evening in his cabin. One evening, a bird, angry that the tree that held its new nest has been felled, appears at Jim’s door. Feeling sorry for the bird, Jim invites the bird to roost in his beard. Slight routine disruptions ensue: the bird sings early in the morning and eats some of Jim’s pancakes. Then, bushed after a day of burning leaves and twigs, Jim is dismayed when a porcupine who now has nothing to build a shelter with bangs on the door….Tenant No. 2 is a bigger disruption in the routine. When they’re joined by a beaver whose dam Jim accidentally destroyed floating logs downriver, it’s too much for the lumberjack to take. He chops off his enormous beard (leaving it on the front porch for his three new friends) and has a restful night of sleep. With all the nearby trees gone, he has to find a new task…and planting a fresh forest of trees seems a win-win-win-win proposition. British author/illustrator Beedie’s digitally created, rustic-styled illustrations extend the silly, simple story nicely with their warm, forest-y hues.

A good addition to the growing shelf of facial-hair fables; themes of conservation and friendship are a plus. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9649-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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