Frog and friends are a delightful group—entertaining, charming, and funny. Just the sort of friends anyone is glad to have.

FROG AND FRIENDS CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING, CHRISTMAS, AND NEW YEAR'S EVE

From the Frog and Friends series

Frog and his animal pals celebrate the winter holidays in this latest in Bunting’s early-reader series.

In the Thanksgiving story, Frog and his regular crew of friends invite a host of additional critters to join them, from crickets to a hippo. Some animals are afraid of being eaten by others, but Frog calms them all down, and they share their dinner in peace. The Christmas story finds Frog and his friends cooperating in decorating a tree and sharing sweet treats. On New Year’s Eve, the animals celebrate with games and a nap under the stars. The stories are quietly entertaining and cleverly humorous with solid plots, subtle lessons, and a cozy sense of community among the group of friends. Bunting’s polished prose is several levels above most early readers, particularly in Frog’s calm leadership and in the understated humor. Charming illustrations are thoughtfully integrated with the text, including lots of spot illustrations as well as some full-page views. Just like the Frog and Toad series, these stories work well as early readers but are also strong enough to succeed as read-alouds for younger children too.

Frog and friends are a delightful group—entertaining, charming, and funny. Just the sort of friends anyone is glad to have. (Early reader. 5-7) 

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58536-897-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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 first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.

FLY GUY PRESENTS: SHARKS

From the Fly Guy series

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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