OLIVE & PEKOE IN FOUR SHORT WALKS

Olive and Pekoe are very different dogs, but they are the best of friends.

The friendship between Olive, an old, small dog, and Pekoe, a lively, large puppy, is presented in four vignettes of the walks the two dogs take together. Illustrator Potter’s impressively expressive naïve-style watercolor, ink, and colored-pencil illustrations perfectly nuance author Davis’ witty text. In “Walk One,” Olive and Pekoe explore the woods, where “Pekoe adores playing with sticks” while “Olive prefers resting in the mud and grass.” The friendship theme is humorously underscored when Pekoe brings Olive a “good stick,” which Olive “just looks at…but she appreciates the gesture.” “Walk Two” finds the duo unhappily caught in a thunderstorm—and here, Potter’s illustrations relay atmosphere and dog expression with striking sophistication given their inherent simplicity. “Walk Three” features chipmunks, and “Walk Four,” a canine bully. Each story contrasts, with a light, dryly humorous touch, the behavior of the elder, experienced Olive and the younger, enthusiastic Pekoe; and in each the theme of friendship is presented in a fresh, nonsaccharine way. Davis uses large words to convey the feelings of Olive (“Olive isn’t overly concerned about the chipmunk’s whereabouts”), but it fits the droll tone. The layout is consistent, presenting a full-page illustration opposite a page of text from spread to spread—until the final page, where the words and illustration are presented together; this clever design visually and textually summarizes the story’s theme of friendship’s togetherness.

A delight. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-257310-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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