A thoughtful, educational lesson for animal lovers.

MY FRIEND GIDEON

A girl realizes her new pet frog belongs in a pond in this picture book.

Six-year-old Becky is thrilled when her parents finally allow her to get a pet. On a family trip to the mountains, Becky enjoys visiting a pond where she sees and hears various critters (“Bzzzzzzzzz; Ribbit; Quack, Quack!”). Becky decides to bring a frog home. She thinks: “He’ll be such a cool pet…better than a dog!” Becky names him Gideon and keeps him in a box. But Gideon doesn’t acclimate and becomes listless and sad. Becky is perplexed until her dad explains that the frog is an amphibian and “should be in his pond, free to leap high and swim!” Though disappointed, Becky realizes Gideon probably misses his home. She returns him to the pond and watches as he is embraced by fellow frogs. Becky will miss Gideon, but she knows she did the right thing. With her relatable protagonist, Lonczak delivers an essential lesson, emphasizing the importance of leaving animals in their natural habitats where they can thrive. The author also includes a note about “Frog Endangerment.” Dimitrovska’s illustrations are colorful with a hand-drawn quality, offering shadows and textures. The light-skinned Becky is shown in a variety of circumstances, including spending time outside and with Gideon. The images of nature are serene and detailed, and the depictions of critters, mainly frogs, are friendly. Some pages feature a pattern of greenery, bubbles, tadpoles, and frogs.

A thoughtful, educational lesson for animal lovers.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-51549-6

Page Count: 44

Publisher: IngramSpark

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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