BELLA'S RULES

As one might guess from the title, boisterous Bella’s rules are in serious conflict with the family rules.

Bella’s rules: candy for breakfast, no washing your hair, ever, except with mud shampoo, and…there is no such thing as bedtime! Family rules include boring things such as no yelling indoors, no painting on paintings and no scaling the bookcase. Bella’s rules seem irrefutable, particularly to her kind but wimpy baby sitter Sammy, whom she terrifies with her wild behavior and who resorts to begging her to behave and go to bed. The indefatigable Bella gets her own way with everything, and her long-suffering parents are at their wits’ end. Until Granny pays a visit and brings with her a game-changer—an adorable puppy that breaks as many rules as his young charge and puts Bella in the unaccustomed role of having to introduce order into the chaos. Puppy’s behavior is even more wild, rude and risky than Bella’s. Ruining Bella’s favorite teddy is the last straw, and Bella sulks for a bit, until she starts to understand that by patiently teaching the puppy good behavior, obedience can actually be more rewarding than rebellion. The harmonious pairing of Guest’s simple but lively text with Halpin’s whimsical illustrations charms. Dialogue is represented in free-floating type that dances with nicely paced vignettes and page turns.

A winner. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3393-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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