This indeed should please the bees! (Picture book. 4-8)

PLEASE PLEASE THE BEES

From his morning toast with honey to a last cup of tea with honey at bedtime, Benedict’s fondness for the sticky stuff defines just about everything he does.

So when the honeybees go on strike, it’s a crisis: breakfast tastes terrible, and his routine is thrown totally out of whack. A union rep holding a tiny “Strike!” sign opens negotiations. Benedict isn’t having any of it: “I let you all live in my yard. All I ask is for a few jars of honey. You should be grateful.” The bee is incredulous: “Buddy, we deliver three jars of honey to you every day. Every month! Every year! Do the math, Einstein!” The bee lists their grievances: a leaky, drafty hive and a weedy yard that forces mileslong flights to find flowers. Chagrined, Benedict does “some research…a little shopping…[and] a lot of work”; he even studies up on how to harvest the honey himself. The bee-yard now a pollinator’s paradise, the union rep calls off the strike, and life is sweet once again—“for everyone.” In his authorial debut, illustrator Kelley shows a knack for a wry turn of phrase, an effective economy with character development, and a good sense of textual pacing. The illustrations are frequently a hoot, in particular the many hovering bees holding their signs aloft as Benedict looks on in consternation, and Benedict’s transformed yard is lovely to behold.

This indeed should please the bees! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8075-5183-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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