Another winner from Cabrera. (Picture book. 3-7)

BAA, BAA, BLACK SHEEP

Who knew that one little girl with her basket of knitting needles could so tax the wool production of a generous black sheep? 

Starting with the familiar refrain, the nursery rhyme veers into a rhyming, amusing place: “One for a hat, and one for mittens / and one for a messy muddle for the kittens.” Soon, she is knitting vests for birds, sweaters for the shepherd, wigs and beards for pigs, a tea cozy, and even black sweaters for tiny white sheep! Careful readers will notice that the black sheep’s own wool is getting thinner and thinner with each page turn. While all the other farm critters and people in the village are cozy in their black sweaters and blankets, the sheep is eventually bald all over! But, never fear, our little heroine has a plan. There’s a lot to appreciate here: the gift recipients are all familiar nursery characters (Bo Peep, Little Boy Blue, the three little kittens, the three pigs, the old woman in the shoe—and her brood is multiethnic), the thinning of the sheep’s wool is slow and subtle, making the big reveal a true surprise, and the clouds look like sheep. Cabrera’s winning style—acrylics with bold, black outlines—is perfect for the preschool audience. Both lap listeners and the audience at story hour will be able to see every detail. 

Another winner from Cabrera. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3388-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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