This dad needs to learn to pick his battles and control his anger.

READ REVIEW

LION NEEDS A HAIRCUT

A cub uses some reverse psychology on his father…but gets a haircut anyway.

From the first spread, what will strike most readers is the father lion’s seemingly over-the-top anger directed at his cub. The two are at dinner, dad’s fist coming down so hard on the tabletop that his plate tilts and his drink sloshes: “You need a haircut.” Unperturbed, the cub slurps up the spaghetti. “No, I don’t.” Dad’s anger continues on the next page, where the duo shares the couch. While the lion’s words try to be reassuring, his scowl is not. On the third spread, dad finally tries to get at the heart of the matter and looks pleasant while shampooing the cub’s hair and reassuring the child that there’s nothing to be scared of. But things devolve again to a (literal) roaring match and, ultimately, the cub’s sad admission: “I just wanted my hair to look like yours.” From there, the cub uses the same tactics his father did to convince him that he also needs a trim (a reference to the lion’s mane as mustache and beard may puzzle literal-minded readers). Troublingly, “Are you scared?” is used tauntingly, and the interaction reinforces the notion that fear and worry are shameful. But most discomfiting is the anger that visibly radiates from the father in too many of the colored-pencil spreads. 

This dad needs to learn to pick his battles and control his anger. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4224-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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