Roldán celebrates the social currency of cracking-good storytelling—and the expediency of a well-placed nap.

JUAN HORMIGA

Juan, a red denizen of a colony of busy black ants, offsets his extreme indolence by enthralling his mates with picaresque tales of his grandfather’s derring-do.

Capable of 10 daily naps, Juan one day surprises everyone by appearing with “a stick between his feet with a little cloth bundle full of food.” He’s off to trace his grandfather’s paths, to “see the world” and return with “heaps of new stories to tell.” As hours pass, the ants speculate on Juan’s adventures, thereby imbuing him with increasing quantities of strength and bravery. A flash flood during Juan’s absence prompts ever greater heights of cogitation, as the ants envisage their newly crowned hero drowned. After the flood recedes, the ants decide to memorialize Juan by planting a flower at the base of a large willow tree. En route, a passing mosquito reports that Juan is actually asleep in that very tree, high up in a knothole. Indeed, the champion napper has slept through the flood, bedding down at the first hint of heavy clouds. Juan cleverly assuages the ants’ disappointment, springing down to share the bundle of food he’d packed while regaling them—yet again— with his grandfather’s escape from an eagle’s talons. Charmingly ant-ic black line drawings, accented with red, green, and yellow, pop against expansive white space. Dialogue is keyed in red type, enhancing the handsome overall design.

Roldán celebrates the social currency of cracking-good storytelling—and the expediency of a well-placed nap. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-939810-82-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Elsewhere Editions

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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