So where do good manners get you? Hunger here and salvation there. Life is a mystery.

A WELL-MANNERED YOUNG WOLF

A young wolf goes hunting for the first time and learns his prey can be crafty—not to mention a bunch of liars.

Leroy’s wolf in this French import has a wolfish streak, but he is also a gentleman. His first quarry is a rabbit, caught in a butterfly net. Well-mannered to a fault, the wolf asks the rabbit for its last wish: to be read a story. The wolf rushes home to get one after the rabbit promises not to move a muscle. The three vignettes that depict his rushing home, choosing a book, and rushing back are hysterical. Arriving back at the scene, the wolf finds the rabbit has vanished. “Wait...he’s gone? Oh, that liar!” His next prey, a chicken, pulls a similar bamboozlement, but the little boy he nabs soon thereafter is true to his promise not to move. So not only does the wolf grant him his last wish, a drawing, but he agrees to let the boy show it to his friends (yes, rabbit and chicken). When the wolf sees them in their woodland clubhouse, he walks away after a page turn. Readers are left to their own devices in solving the riddle, but the absence of the rabbit and the chicken in the frame may be a clue. Maudet’s artwork—vignettes, full-page illustrations, two-page spreads—are colored in earth tones that make for clean, rural tableaux.

So where do good manners get you? Hunger here and salvation there. Life is a mystery. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5479-7

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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