Invaluable in this moment and beyond.

LOOKING FOR SMILE

A tenderhearted, life-affirming exploration of the depressive cycle through simple language and a rich visual vocabulary.

Bear and Smile seem inseparable. They do everything together: wake, munch, roam floral fields and wooded wilderness, plunge into waterfalls, and slurp golden gobs of honey. Suffused with a solar glow, vibrant illustrations undergirded by the inimitable texture of Arches paper initially exude the most wonderful warmth. All is clearly well—but, as the world has a habit of reminding us, great difficulties sometimes arrive abruptly. One morning—without warning, without reason—Bear finds himself alone. Smile is nowhere to be found. Amid Bear’s gloomy landscape, a few objects retain their true colors, but the rest of the world is subsumed by a deep blue malaise. Rabbit notices something is amiss and suggests Bear seek Smile in his favorite places; Bear searches everywhere, to no avail. Bear slurps a pawful of honey as a last resort; still, Smile doesn’t return. As hope fades, Bird swoops in and asks what’s wrong. Bear shares his sorrow, and Bird sits alongside him. They share the comfortable silence of confidants—until Bird begins to sing, softly at first, then louder as Bear hums in harmony. As they fill the forest with song, something stirs deep within Bear. As it rises, the world slowly shifts. Color imbues the page. Life irrupts anew. At long last, Smile appears on Bear’s face. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 57% of actual size.)

Invaluable in this moment and beyond. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6619-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 40

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

THE HONEYBEE MAN

Tell it to the bees. The ancient art of beekeeping is alive and well in Brooklyn, N.Y. Fred is dedicated to his bees and greets them each morning on his rooftop. He has named the queens Mab, Boadicea and Nefertiti, after legendary historic figures; the bees are his “sweeties” and his “darlings.” He hums with them as they swarm and flies with them in his imagination as they search for the most fragrant flowers. When the time is right, he carefully gathers their honey, jars it, shares it with his neighbors and, of course, savors some of that luscious honey himself. Nargi’s descriptive language is filled with smell and sound and sight, carrying readers right up to that rooftop with Fred, while seamlessly interweaving detailed information about beekeeping. An afterword of “amazing facts” explains more about apiarists, bees’ life cycles and more, all in light, easy-to-understand syntax. Brooker’s oil-and-collage illustrations, appropriately rendered in greens and browns, golds and ambers, enhance the text beautifully. They accurately depict Fred’s and the bees’ actions while creating a stylized, fanciful view of a homey Brooklyn neighborhood, complete with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Even the endpapers are integral to the work, presenting labeled diagrams of bees and beekeeping materials. Eccentric and unusual with an appealing, gentle charm. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-84980-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more