A day that “begins in peaceful harmony” erupts into a summer storm that is likened to a symphony.

Fine-lined illustrations in colored pencils capture a morning in nature. It’s a soothing, onomatopoeic adventure, a “melody” that runs through the day: Birds chirp; crickets go “Cree-cree!”; wasps buzz; frogs croak; and snakes hiss. Suddenly, there is a “Whoosh!” of wind; thunder crashes, and lightning strikes. A hard rain falls. With simple sentences, Yerkes transforms the storm into a musical performance. The gathering winds are drums rolling; the thunder is cymbals crashing; and the driving rain is the “maracas mark[ing] the rhythm.” The delicate linework is especially captivating: Graceful apricot lines swirl to become a paper wasps’ nest; elegant circles in sky blue make room, within the page’s negative space, for a frog’s lily pad; a fox, whose copper-colored fur pops off the page, wanders through delicate, feathery grasses; and spreads with vertical lines dominating (tree branches reaching for the sky and tall grasses) begin to lean right as the winds pick up. Readers are then treated to a beguiling full-bleed, wordless spread of the driving rain—a series of parallel diagonal lines, creating gradients in color (shades of blues and lavenders) and space. Spreads are expertly composed with a brilliant use of white space that lets the story breathe. When the rain subsides, a vividly colored yellow bird shakes water off its feathers on this “perfect summer day.”

Exquisite. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5577-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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Hee haw.

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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 terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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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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