Soothing at bedtime yet with enough substance for an autumn group storytime.

READ REVIEW

A FALL BALL FOR ALL

A fluttering line of autumn leaves flying across every double-page spread announces the wind’s presence.

Autumn Wind is a character here, inviting all the forest animals to the “annual Windfall Ball.” The event is not just a night’s entertainment, but the opportunity for the animals to gather the food they each need for the long winter ahead. As Swenson explains to adults at the end, a “windfall” can be “fruit or other crops blown down by the wind” or “an unexpected gift or good fortune.” As part of the harvest season, in the northern woods of the United States, the author’s home, the wind does its natural part in bringing down foods that can be eaten, or gathered and stored according to their needs, by the region’s animals, some hibernating, some able to live through harsh winters, and some who migrate to southern areas. This fanciful depiction in rhyme of the invisible wind that affects many animals with its hospitality scans well. “Then Autumn Wind began to dance— / It breezed, / it blew, / it puffed, / it pranced. / Beckoning both big and small / To join in step at the Windfall Ball.” There are plenty of animals to spot in the soft, yet vibrant mixed media illustrations that combine the use of watercolor, tempera, and colored pencils with digital retouching: rabbits, bears, raccoons, elk, and quail, among them. This satisfying book for the fall season emphasizes the interconnectivity of nature.

Soothing at bedtime yet with enough substance for an autumn group storytime. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5124-9803-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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