The deserts take a while to get there, but boy, are they just.

THE DONKEY EGG

Bear’s wily neighbor Fox produces a gigantic green “donkey egg” and convinces Bear to part with $20 for it.

The Stevens sisters delve into the folk tradition for this tale, variants of which appear in such disparate places as Korea and Algeria, creating full personalities for its protagonists along with a satisfying conclusion to the central hoax, turning a practical joke into a win for the dupe. Cameo portraits introduce the main characters, starting with Bear, who “worked hard, but not anymore. Needs motivation.” Bear is large, furry, and sleepy; Rabbit’s energetic and jumpy; Fox is dapper and sly. Readers will know, as Bear knows, that the huge watermelon is not a donkey egg. But Fox is so persuasive that Bear settles in to help the egg hatch. As Bear sits, warming the egg, rocking it, telling it stories, and playing with it, amusing sidebars calculate seconds in minutes, hours, and days and offer helpful facts (“It takes a spider about an hour to spin a fancy web”; “It takes about a week for a snake to sheds its entire skin”). Bear, who seems to snooze away his days, has a purpose. When disaster—of a sort—strikes, Bear’s devotion has sparked his energy, and he is able to act, with his friend Rabbit as cheerleader, turning Fox’s shenanigans into a fine treasure. Stevens’ nicely detailed illustrations with their exaggerated, cartoon humor emphasize the delightful silliness. That there is no note indicating the story's folk origins is a serious omission, however.

The deserts take a while to get there, but boy, are they just. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-547-32767-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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