A neatly paced, cleverly presented, humorous lesson in awareness

SLOTH SLEPT ON

Finding an alien animal asleep in the tree in their garden, children question what it is, making a surprising discovery while overlooking the obvious.

When children spy a nonresponsive animal asleep in their tree, they know he’s unlike any animal they’ve ever seen. With the sleeping creature in tow (in a wagon), the curious kids get no help from their busy father. After eliminating elephants, tigers, horses, and bears and checking their books, the puzzled kids wonder if their creature may have “traveled for a very long time, from somewhere far away.” In a book about rain forests, they discover the mystery creature’s a sloth, indigenous to rain forests of Central and South America. Packing their sleeping sloth into a box with leaves and toys, the kids mail him to the rain forest, unaware their sloth has escaped from the local zoo despite copious hints in the illustrations. Relying on simple shapes and judicious use of white space, droll watercolor paintings reveal the back story of the sloth’s unexpected presence. The sloth remains blissfully asleep as the clueless kids ship him to the rain forest, oblivious to the posters and newspaper headlines announcing his escape from the zoo. Useful sloth facts and visual vignettes of the sloth as an astronaut, pirate, and knight add gravitas and levity, respectively.

A neatly paced, cleverly presented, humorous lesson in awareness . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1611-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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