Clever, funny, and true—really.

SORRY (REALLY SORRY)

A chain reaction of spiteful words and actions ricochets across a farmyard until an act of kindness turns things around.

It all starts with Cow. Cross because she’s hoof deep in mud, the usually placid Holstein flicks mud onto Duck. Cranky because of Cow’s actions and unwillingness to apologize, Duck insults her friend Frog and proffers only an insincere apology. Frog criticizes Bird and refuses to feel remorse. Bird chases Goat from a space they normally share, then Goat butts Pig. Tenderhearted Pig, in turn, cries her eyes out. When Dog comes along to find out what’s the matter, Pig passes on the pique, but Dog refuses to bite. He patiently waits through Pig’s emotional storm, then reminds her of their long-standing friendship. Dog’s compassion prompts a sincere apology, which then boomerangs back through the other animals. The entertaining text moves briskly, filled with interactions that will be amusingly familiar to both readers and listeners. Although they possess the power of speech, the animals are portrayed relatively realistically in Bliss’ expressive ink-and-watercolor cartoons. The farm setting includes enough detail to ground the story without distraction from the action while the simply drawn faces, particularly the animals’ eyes, convey an impressive range of emotions. An exploration of the repercussions of a bad mood could have turned into a pedantic moral tale, but Cotler and Bliss’ light touch and humorous approach offer insight without judgment.

Clever, funny, and true—really. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984-81247-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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