Playful, joyous, and hip.

READ REVIEW

OOKO

Ooko, a fox looking for a friend, finds one—and also makes some self-discoveries along the way.

In the initial double-page spread—backgrounded by bright foliage and a quaint village—a friendly-looking, stylized, furry, orange creature introduces itself: “I am Ooko. I am a fox.” Ooko then introduces readers to its natural playthings, including a stick, and admits that the one missing element is “a friend to play with.” Children will enjoy the absurd humor of text and artwork as the fox, in its search for a friend, lifts up a moose to look underneath and sighs, “Not here either.” The humor continues as the fox imagines that domesticated dogs are foxes and that, because one dog is being led about by a girl of color named Debbie, all humans are called “Debbies.” The story gets funnier and funnier as Ooko tries to emulate dogs and earn a Debbie for a friend. When an adult, white Debbie with temporary vision problems mistakes Ooko for her dog, Ooko is shocked to discover the discomforts of domesticity. The droll illustrations of the fox grimacing through a bath, a collar, a dog jacket, and a walk on a leash end with rescue by a new friend from the wild. The book’s final words cement the fact that neither Ooko nor the new friend has been assigned a gender.

Playful, joyous, and hip. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-91844-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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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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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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