An inviting entree, if (not unlike the institution itself) a bit staid.

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LOST IN THE LIBRARY

A STORY OF PATIENCE & FORTITUDE

When one of the marble lions guarding the main entrance to the New York Public Library goes AWOL, the other scampers off in pursuit.

Seeing Patience’s plinth unoccupied and dawn at hand, worried Fortitude steps off to track his longtime sidekick down in rigidly metric verse: “Patience told stories of ducklings and moons, / Of wardrobes and buttons and fun. / On cold snowy evenings or hot afternoons, / Fortitude cherished each one.” The quest takes readers on a quick tour of the iconic building from the Astor Hall entrance to the lofty Rose Reading Room and then back to ground level, where the errant kitty is found at last in the Children’s Center surrounded by open books. The lions make it back to their assigned places in time, but Fortitude is hooked: “ ‘Patience,’ he said, ‘when there’s no one around, / Tonight can we sneak in and read?’ ” The lions sport jutting jaws, à la Tony the Tiger, and anthropomorphic expressions, but Lewis endows the two with properly leonine manes. Along with depicting the library’s decorations and architectural details with reasonable fidelity (though nowhere is there even a glimpse of a computer), she includes recognizable images from several classic picture books. According to an unobtrusive note, the Children’s Center is scheduled to move to another building in 2020, so notwithstanding the multiple literary references, this won’t have a long shelf life as a guide for young visitors. Still, the iconic lions have greeted all comers since 1911 (though they weren’t given their current names until the 1930s) and will continue to do so for many years to come.

An inviting entree, if (not unlike the institution itself) a bit staid. (endnotes) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-15501-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long.

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THE SERIOUS GOOSE

Bet you can’t make this goose smile, no matter how hard you try.

TV personality Kimmel’s first foray into picture books presents a feathered grump with a scowl that is proof against any kind of foolery: Try putting a chicken on her head, dressing her as a moose, or even trucking in a snail pizza—this goose won’t crack. Breaking now and again into verse, he challenges readers to give it a try in a foil mirror: “Cluck like a chicken / moo like a cow / be doofy, be goofy / any way you know how”—and sure enough, eventually a grin bursts out to replace the grimace despite a multipage struggle to hold it in, and off prances the goose in a pair of (gender-bending) tighty whities. Yes, she’s become “a SILLY goose (thanks to you),” the narrator proclaims, and what’s more, “YOU are a silly kid.” A hand-lettered narrative in block printing big enough to take up most of the space accompanies thick-lined cartoon views of a goosey glare that dares readers to crank up the volume, and the last page turn reveals a final tweak that may add a few grown-up voices to the younger chorus of giggles.

The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-70775-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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