Charming.

READ REVIEW

REACH FOR THE MOON, LITTLE LION

A very small lion is made to feel even smaller and more insignificant when the leopard, hippopotamus, and crocodile bully him mercilessly.

They laugh uproariously, stick out their tongues, and taunt him about his size. They tell him that real lions are so large that they are able to touch the moon with their paws. Discouraged, the sad little lion gazes at the moon and realizes the impossibility of such an action. A kind raven comes up with a plan. The raven tells all the animals to come to the hill to see something extraordinary. The moon hangs over the hill and the little lion stretches his paw toward the moon, and, from below, it seems as if his paw is actually touching the moon. Most of the animals cheer, but his tormentors remain silent. The little lion smiles and roars a “great little lion’s roar.” The bullies are relentless, mean-spirited, and rather ignorant, and the little lion is fortunate to have a kind and resourceful friend in the raven. The outcome of Müller’s cautionary tale is satisfying when the bullies get their comeuppance, but there’s little sense that he might go on to explore other, independent solutions in the future. The mostly double-page spreads of computer-generated illustrations depict expressive, sharply defined animals; the little lion has a mane, so he is a diminutive adult rather than a cub. Shadows, body language, and some unexpected touches add depth to the tale.

Charming. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3777-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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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