All-around gorgeous; Frost and Lieder again showcase the splendor of nature through the happy marriage of literal and...

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SWEEP UP THE SUN

A picture-book poem calling for adventure that’s—thankfully—for the birds.

When poet Frost and photographer Lieder last teamed up (Step Gently Out, 2012), their lyric gaze focused on the insect world, magnifying the beauty of wee, crawly creatures to wide critical acclaim. Their latest endeavor, again but one poem set amid riveting close-ups, takes to the air, capturing many common species of North American birds—mostly in flight—and reprising Frost’s theme encouraging children to step outside and explore the natural world. From the urgent dependency captured on the front endpapers in the form of baby robins, beaks gaping wide, to the independence of adult birds midflight, arrested in such detail that an attentive child can count the feathers of a downy woodpecker’s wing or study the masked face of a male cardinal, Lieder’s breathtaking photography carries the book’s message of growth. Frost’s poem encourages youngsters to leave the nest, “trusting” the sky to “hold you / as you learn to fly.” It not only quietly promotes thoughtful risk-taking, but neatly and unwittingly encapsulates the ambitious creative project she and Lieder have embarked on: “Alone in the sky, // or flying with friends, / your wings will carry you far, // stitching earth to sky with invisible thread, // at home wherever you are.”

All-around gorgeous; Frost and Lieder again showcase the splendor of nature through the happy marriage of literal and figurative images. (Picture book/poetry. 2-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6904-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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