A delight.

READ REVIEW

SWEET DREAMERS

A stylized, visually stunning introduction to animals and animal facts that doubles neatly as a bedtime story.

In this French import, slumbering animals, insects, and sea creatures are depicted in highly detailed spreads paired with lyrical free verse. Delicate clusters of lines characterize the digital illustrations, which, dominated by black, resemble scratchboard with a modern twist: Vibrant neon-orange highlights the moonlit details on nearly every page. The visual and verbal pacing excels. Wordless full-bleed landscape endpapers and title pages gently draw readers in, inspiring quiet wonder and appreciation of the natural world before zooming in on the first featured creature: a sloth, asleep in a tree. What follows is an organic, loosely educational exploration of animals’ experiences of sleep: In each spread, Simler’s text, translated from the original French, cleverly acknowledges fact (the sloth sleeps “slung like a hammock”) while entertaining flights of fancy (“the sloth dreams / of spring-loaded sprinters, / of rockets blasting off”). The creatures themselves are easily recognizable; many, refreshingly, are less-common subjects, including a humpback whale, a flamingo, and a wild boar. Every so often, the close-up animal spreads are punctuated by new wordless nighttime landscape spreads over which to linger. In the final spread, an unnamed light-skinned girl slumbers: a cue for readers to do the same. The satisfyingly large trim size, soothing pacing, and imaginative text invite shared (and frequent) reading.

A delight. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5517-6

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Lit with sweetness.

SHARE SOME KINDNESS, BRING SOME LIGHT

Coco, who loves her gentle friend Bear, is shocked to learn that the other forest animals do not know about his kindness.

Inspired by one of her grandmother’s favorite maxims, Coco, a girl with light brown skin and curly brown hair, works with Bear to “share some kindness [and] bring some light” to the other animals in the forest. Interpreting it literally, the two make cookies (kindness) and lanterns (light) to share with the other animals. They trek through the snow-covered forest to deliver their gifts, but no one trusts Bear enough to accept them. As night begins to fall, Bear and Coco head home with the lanterns and cookies. On the way through the quiet forest, they hear a small voice pleading for help; it’s Baby Deer, stuck in the snow. They help free him, and Bear gives the young one a ride home on his back. When the other animals see both that Baby Deer is safe and that Bear is responsible for this, they begin to recognize all the wonderful things about Bear that they had not noticed before. The episode is weak on backstory—how did Coco and Bear become friends? Why don’t the animals know Bear better by now?—but Stott’s delicately inked and colored illustrations offer beguiling views of lightly anthropomorphized woodland critters that make it easy to move past these stumbling blocks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67% of actual size.)

Lit with sweetness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6238-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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