Move over, reindeer, a new cat’s coming to Christmas.

HOW TO HIDE A LION AT CHRISTMAS

From the How To Hide a Lion series

There’s no hiding Iris’ love for her pet lion.

There’s little backstory to explain to readers unfamiliar with How To Hide a Lion (2013) how the lion came to live with Iris and her family. But even though “all the townspeople loved him,” Iris’ mother says the big cat can’t accompany them to Auntie Sarah’s house for Christmas because others on the train and in the town they’re visiting would be frightened. Iris is saddened, and her sadness spurs the lion into action: After she and her family leave home, he follows and hides in the overhead luggage rack on the train. No one notices him, in part because he falls asleep on the journey and therefore is quiet. Unfortunately, he sleeps through the moment when Iris’ family gets off the train. When he awakens, he’s far from Auntie Sarah’s house. But the intrepid feline follows the railroad tracks back to a village, where, after humorous encounters with carolers and Santa himself, he is finally reunited with Iris. Stephens’ pictures have a cartoon quality to them, and they amplify the warm, gentle humor of the text as they alternate between vignettes and full bleeds, culminating in a relaxed family scene by the Christmas tree at Auntie Sarah’s. Iris, her family, and Santa all present white.

Move over, reindeer, a new cat’s coming to Christmas. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-23079-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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