TOM'S TWEET

A tweet’s anything but a tasty treat for fat Tom cat when his big heart gets him in trouble.

After a storm, Tom finds a dazed tweet under a tree. When he decides the baby bird is too scrawny to snack on, Tom turns tail…but it looks so frightened! “ ‘I will not take you back to your nest,’ Tom declared. / But the thing blink-blink-blinked, and…egad! / Tom was half up the tree with the poor little tyke / when its mama showed up… / fighting mad!” Tom (tweet still grasped in his teeth) escapes Mama Bird (by running through rose bushes—ouch!), but what next? Building a nest doesn’t quiet tweet’s tweets. Digging worms doesn’t help. Chewing the worms up (gulp!) and letting it snuggle does. When Mama flies off to get food, Tom gets tweet back in the nest; but he misses his wee new buddy all night. The next day, tweet’s on the ground again. “When Mama Tweet saw that old Tom was a softie, / her ‘sorry’ was long (and earsplitting). / And to prove that she trusted him, / really and truly, / she gave him a job… // tweety-sitting.” Esbaum’s tweet tale will have listeners in stitches (especially the wormy bits), and Santat’s Photoshopped cartoon illustrations of bulky Tom and the goggle-eyed tweets are as expressive as they are goofy.

Totally tweet-rific. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-85171-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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