Share this book with your best friend.

ELMORE AND PINKY

Finding a best friend is easier than these critters realize.

The little porcupine introduced in Elmore (2018) has several friends, but he’s hoping to find a best friend. His uncle insists that getting one “just happens” and to “be patient.” Elmore shares his woes with Pinky the skunk. Both agree that best friends should share preferences, such as being nocturnal. In an episode straight out of Robert McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal, Elmore is out picking berries when a bear cub and its mother burst onto the scene, scaring him. Hearing the cries for help, Pinky comes running and releases his characteristic scent, which all bears hate. Elmore, though, likes it since it reminds him of Pinky: “It’s so you,” he tells the skunk. Later, while making his blueberry pie, Elmore realizes that his best friend was “right under [his] nose all along”—brave, clever Pinky. They share the pie, which is “half the pleasure” of making it. The story is endearing in its heartfelt simplicity, maintains sincerity, and reminds readers that there are fitting companions for all types. Hobbie’s illustrations are reminiscent of Beatrix Potter’s in style and content: Soft watercolor shading and strategic fine details depict animals in minimal clothes living naturally outside but with comfortable furnishings in their burrows. They have a charm all their own while evoking the classics.

Share this book with your best friend. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7081-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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