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

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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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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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For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series.

THE POLAR BEAR WISH

Anja and her dog, Birki, do their best to get to a Christmas party in a frozen Nordic landscape.

Anja wishes she had a dog sled to harness Birki to in order to get to the party. The next morning, her cousin Erik appears with his dog sled and an offer to take her there. Lost in a blizzard, they encounter talking wolves who take them to a tent where they can spend the night. A baby polar bear named Tiny appears, separated from his mother. The following day takes them all on an adventure through glaciers and fjords, past an ice castle, and finally to Tiny’s mother and to the party. This digitally produced book is illustrated with photographs that capture the Nordic setting. Unfortunately, the overall effect is weirdly flat, with elements awkwardly set together in images that lack depth. A polar bear perches awkwardly on top of oddly scaled pack ice; Anja and Erik spend a night in the ice castle in niches chiseled into the wall, but they seem oddly disconnected from it. The book has an old-fashioned, European feel; the white, blond children’s red caps and traditional clothing stand out against the dim, bluish winter light. But the wooden, overlong text does little to cultivate the magical fantasy feeling that it’s aiming for.

For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6566-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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