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

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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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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