A quiet tale of magic and love with delicate, realistic illustrations.

THUNDER HORSE

A child raises a magical horse and learns about the enduring power of love in this picture book.

The narrator is given a tiny white horse, “perfect in every way,” by Aunt Aldora, who wears a bright shawl and bangles, in contrast to the child’s more staidly attired parents. She says that the tiny horse came from a “hidden Greek Island” and cautions the child that, because the horse is magical and “you cannot own magic,” one day, the horse will leave. The child cares for the horse, feeding it and walking it on a leash. After the child hears a teacher read the story of Pegasus in class, the youngster decides that Pegasus is the perfect name for the horse, who has been growing and growing and now sports magnificent wings. Bunting’s assured text is quiet, subtle, and accepting, and Nolan’s delicate and emotive illustrations (all full-color, double-page spreads) add their own peacefulness. They have the look of pastels on colored paper, giving the images a textured, solid feel that is nevertheless dreamlike. The youngster and Pegasus form a strong and loving bond, made poignant by its impermanence. The final pages of the story switch from past tense to the present, allowing readers to understand that the happy, satisfying conclusion will continue. The narrator has long, brown hair and pale skin, as do both parents and Aunt Aldora. 

A quiet tale of magic and love with delicate, realistic illustrations. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-443-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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 wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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