STORM IS COMING!

A clever suspense story for very young children also gently shows them the face(s) of silly fears. When Farmer hears a storm is coming, he tells dog to call the animals into the barn. Once gathered there, all the noise wakes up Cat, who, upon being told “STORM IS COMING!,” asks, “And who is Storm?” No one, not dog, not duck, not cows, knows who Storm is, but the weather outside is getting ominous, and the frightened animals hope it will help hide them. Watching and listening, they get increasingly nervous, but are able to find solace in each other until the sun comes back out and so, therefore, they can too, believing Storm never has arrived. The well-paced text told from the animals’ point of view builds suspense, but even younger children will feel “in the know,” understanding how the fear factor comes from just a little ignorance of a word everyone should know, and they will enjoy the inside (the barn) joke. The softened effects, bright colors, and perspective of the drawings reinforce and enhance the story in a blazingly seamless design. While the story does its suspenseful work, the comforted young reader sees the storm through windows along with the animals. Tekavec debuts her perfectly pitched read-aloud, replete with sheep’s bleating stutters, accompanied by Spengler’s (Clickety Clack, 1999) splendid (and somewhat goofy) pastel renderings, to create a package that will be used by storytellers, teachers, and most importantly kids, over and over again. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2626-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

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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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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