A treat.

READ REVIEW

THE HIGHWAY RAT

With a tale that shares more ground with tales of Robin Hood and the Three Billy Goats Gruff than its inspiration, Alfred Noyes’ “The Highwayman,” Donaldson and Scheffler deliver a lot of laughs.

With a rhyming cadence evoking the hoofbeat pattern of Noyes’ rhythmic verse, Donaldson introduces an anthropomorphic, thieving rat on horseback who steals food from all he encounters. He wants sweets but still takes clover from a passing rabbit, nuts from a squirrel and even a leaf from a line of ants. He grows fat while they starve, until a duck comes along. The rat threatens to eat her since she carries no food, but taking a cue from the Billy Goats Gruff, she sends him in search of her sister, who supposedly has a hoard of “biscuits and buns aplenty” hidden in a cave. Led there, he calls into the cave, mistaking the echo as the sister’s response with a list of goodies. When he goes to find the treats, the crafty duck channels Robin Hood to steal back his saddlebags of food for the other animals, leaving the rat to wander blindly through the dark cave. Throughout, humorous illustrations obscure any sense of danger in the story, instead provoking pleasure. In an ending that matches the entire book’s comic tone, the rat secures a job cleaning a bakery, leaving the others free of his thieving ways.

A treat. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-47758-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more