TALE OF A TAIL

Bodn†r (A Wagonload of Fish, 1996) demonstrates how false friends can still be helpful, despite their worst intentions. A fish-glutted fox has just scored a basketful of trout at the local fishing hole and repaired to his den to tuck in when his friend the bear materializes outside the door. The bear pleads for a portion, the greedy fox refuses, but, to be rid of the nuisance, tells the bear to catch his own by sticking his tail in the lake overnight. Unfortunately, the lake freezes over, and in the morning the bear must drag along the whole body of water as he struggles toward the fox’s den to give him a piece of his mind; his rage is a source of strength. In the meantime, the sun is rising and the ice is thawing. On the bear toils until he gets stuck between two trees, and notices that the lake is slowly melting, forming a stream, and in it are plenty of fish. With the fox off the hook and the bear sated, the story grinds to a halt without a real turning point; the story is resolved simplistically despite the hints that it will take on epic, or at least tall-tale, proportions. Sandford’s attractive illustrations have Jan Brett-like folkloric details, and work well within the restrictions of the story—the two main characters never meet, and the third character (the lake) is not assigned personality or substance. (Picture book/folklore. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-688-12174-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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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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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

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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