BEAR IS AWAKE!

AN ALPHABET STORY

Every letter of the alphabet is used—some more than once—in a plot involving a human child and a furry, brown bear about five times bigger.

A line of snow-laden conifers spreads across the back of the initial double-page spread. In the foreground of the recto, the bear sits in a cave, a dazed look on its face. The bottom of the page shows an upper- and lowercase letter A followed by the word “awake.” The story continues with Bb and “big bear” on the next page and the bear’s obvious goal, a “cozy cabin,” across the gutter. Children will love the fact that the cabin’s inhabitant is a young, pale-skinned child (with long, gold locks that cannot be a coincidence) who, despite an initial shriek of “eek!” as the bear “enter[s] excited,” soon takes control of the situation. The cleverness and humor of the words are matched by art that is painterly, adorably sweet, and laugh-out-loud funny. The kid ties a ridiculous, yellow-knitted “hat” on the bear before marching it through town. People of all ages and racial presentations react to the bear as it responds to a snowman, the public “library,” and the food “market.” Since there are no sentences—only words—the book allows little ones to conjecture and comment. According to the jacket bio, this book was inspired by Helen Oxenbury’s ABC of Things (1971). It is a fitting tribute.

A perfect a-bear-cedary. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-18666-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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