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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A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.”

NOODLE AND THE NO BONES DAY

Graziano tells the story of his TikTok-famous pug, Noodle.

Noodle is a silly, stubborn old pug who likes walks and snacks. “He’s a pug who knows what he wants.” Jonathan, his light-skinned owner, loves taking Noodle for walks and sharing snacks—they are a perfect pair. But one day, when it’s time for a walk, Noodle just lies in his dog bed. Even when Jonathan tries to make Noodle sit up, Noodle flops back down. “It’s like he doesn’t have bones!” says Jonathan. Noodle doesn’t seem sick—he just wants snacks and to stay in bed. Finally, Jonathan asks if Noodle would just like to snuggle instead and receives a strong affirmative from the drowsy pug. Together Noodle and his human enjoy a relaxing “no bones day” and learn an important lesson about rest and why it matters for silly, stubborn old pugs and for the humans who love them, too. Many may already be familiar with Noodle through his TikTok videos (if Noodle remains standing when Graziano lifts him, it’s a “bones day”; among Noodle’s followers, a “no bones day” has come to mean a day for self-care and taking it easy). However, this story stands alone and will likely create new fans for a long time to come. Hand-drawn and painted digitally, Tavis’ illustrations rely on a muted palette and rounded images, depicting an appropriately cozy world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.” (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66592-710-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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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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