There’s nothing too scary, no message to navigate—just a sweet story, well done.

PANDA PANTS

A little panda has decided that he wants pants, and he’s going to tell his father exactly why.

Pants have pockets, pants are warm, pants are soft, pants would impress—but father panda is not convinced that this little panda will be the first panda to wear pants. While they walk and talk, a gray-and-black–spotted tail is always near; is someone following them? Passing a garden, the little panda notices a scarecrow wearing—pants!—which find their way onto the little panda, who runs to catch up with his father. Suddenly, a snow leopard jumps out! With some quick thinking, a watermelon, and teamwork with little animals nearby, the little panda’s pants turn out to be very useful—and impressive—in foiling the snow leopard with a melon to the noggin. Excitement over, the little panda gives his pants to a rabbit. When his father asks why, he explains that he doesn’t want pants. He wants shoes. Davies’ story will be amusingly familiar to anyone who’s gone head-to-head with determined little ones who are convinced they have the best idea ever right now. Hanson’s illustrations are impressive, double-page spreads of lush watercolor bamboo alternating with white-backgrounded vignettes for faster-paced dialogue. Hanson has a knack for drawing ridiculously cute, expressive animals, and she does so here, with the facial expressions reflecting the dialogue wonderfully.

There’s nothing too scary, no message to navigate—just a sweet story, well done. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-53576-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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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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