Appealing but sexist.

READ REVIEW

A YEAR AROUND THE GREAT OAK

During each season, city-dwelling siblings Benjamin and Anna visit their cousin Robin and his favorite tree—a 300-year-old oak in a European forest.

“Uncle John was a forester and their house was right on the edge of the forest.” This is typical of the blunt sentences that tell a gentle tale of children exploring the natural world whenever they are together. The illustrations—of gouache, colored pencil, and graphite—have the nostalgic appeal of mid-20th-century Little Golden Books, with people, plants, and animals rendered in a way that imbues them all with sweetness. A semblance of plot develops when Benjamin, despite misgivings, steals away at night for a tree visitation and must stay in its branches to avoid wild boars. The final story scene is a frameworthy double-page spread of children celebrating the oak in the full beauty of summer. The book is an expanded version of a title originally published in Germany in 1991. The sexism present in the text has not worn well. Aunt Beth is mentioned as Uncle John’s spouse but never appears—not even when the others spend a magical spring evening observing badgers and other forest creatures. Anna waters a plant and picks flowers, but she does not join Benjamin and Uncle John to watch a group of all-male foresters at work, nor to ski through the forest with Robin. The primary characters present white. Following the story is the new material: 12 pages of further information about woodlands, in lovingly illustrated detail.

Appealing but sexist. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78250-602-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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THE SNOWY NAP

A hedgehog tries to stay awake for winter.

It’s almost time to hibernate, and Hedgie means to. But as he sniffs the chilly wind, farmyard animals taunt him about what he’ll miss. The hens’ coop will be “bedazzled by icicles”; the geese will joyfully “slip and slide across the pond ice”; the pony will pull a sleigh; snowflakes will fall, no two alike. The animals heckling Hedgie—hens, geese, sheep, pigs, a billy goat, a pony—are drawn with fine lines, hatchings, and textures. Because their faces are mostly realistic with only faint hints of anthropomorphism, their needling is subtle; some readers may hear their points as merely informative. Either way, Hedgie’s seized by FOMO: He decides to stay awake. When he accidentally nods off, farm girl Lisa brings him indoors and places him in a tea cozy on a windowsill. Nature will eventually run its course, but not before Hedgie finally glimpses “flowers of frost decorating his window,” the chicken coop “sparkl[ing] like a palace,” and Lisa pond-sliding with the geese. Brett’s watercolor-and-gouache illustrations feature both soft and bright colors, with fine lines and copious textures to peruse; the borders are characteristically fussy (braided yarn, pinking-shears edging, oval insets) but not distractingly so. Between the opulent farmhouse with decorative plates on the walls, the sleigh with sleigh bells, and the lack of adults, combined with a comfortably heated interior, this is a winter idyll. Lisa presents white.

Amiable. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-17073-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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