A wholesome, down-home children’s book, with fine illustrations and a kid-friendly moral.

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The Legend of Lizard Lick

A NORTH CAROLINA FOLKTALE

A delightful folk tale for children about friendship, forgiveness and how Lizard Lick, N.C., got its name.

Matthews’ debut children’s book tells the story of the amusingly named little town of Lizard Lick, a real-life town in North Carolina. The true origins of the town’s name are shrouded in mystery (and may have something to do with moonshine and thirsty lizards), but Matthews invents a fun, imaginative folk-inspired version of its origin. Young Carson asks his grandfather, Papa Richard, how Lizard Lick got its funny name. Papa Richard tells that once, there were two types of folk living by Sweetwater Pond: the Lizards and the Frogs. On the edge of the pond, the Lizards were led by Mayor Walla and their police chief, Broadhead Billy; out on the lily pads, the Frogs of Frogville follow Mayor Hairy Frog and their own top cop, Bullfrogger. Harmony and friendship reign in Sweetwater Pond until a drought hits; as resources dwindle, the Frogs decide that the pond isn’t big enough for both them and the Lizards. To decide who will have ownership over the pond and who will have to leave, the Frogs challenge the Lizards to a sports competition, which includes events such as the long jump, a 10-meter run and a tug of war. The ensuing contest is sure to keep children on the edges of their seats, but the title might give the game away; as Papa Richard says, “It was because the lizards licked the frogs.” But Matthews’ tale isn’t about winners and losers, but about the power of forgiveness, the importance of sharing, and the good karma that comes from playing fair and square. The author’s easy-to-read, descriptive prose is accompanied by Taylor’s beautiful watercolor illustrations that colorfully and wonderfully develop the story’s world and characters. The Frogs and Lizards are rendered in exquisite detail, with humanlike expressions, while still retaining their animal qualities, and the backgrounds will give young readers a great sense of the North Carolina landscape.

A wholesome, down-home children’s book, with fine illustrations and a kid-friendly moral.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1479382477

Page Count: 36

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2013

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An unabashed love letter from mother.

I LOVE YOU, LITTLE POOKIE

From the Little Pookie series

A sweet celebration of the bond between a mother and her Pookie.

The eighth installment in this always charming series eschews the episodic drama and silliness of earlier outing such as Spooky Pookie (2015) in favor of a mom’s-eye-view celebration of her child and the time they spend together. There is, of course, nothing wrong with drama and silliness. But while the lack of conflict and plot in favor of unapologetic sentiment makes this book a quick read, that doesn’t make it any less endearing. The rhymed verse captures a mother’s wonder as she observes the many facets of her child’s personality: “Ah, Pookie. My little one. My funny one. My child. // Sometimes you are quiet. Sometimes you are wild.” On the simple joys of shared moments, she notes, “I love to go walking with you by my side. / I love when we sing when we go for a ride. // And I love just to watch as you think and you play. / The way that you are is a wonderful way.” Paired with author/illustrator Boynton’s irresistible renderings of a porcine mommy and her playful, snuggly little piglet, the result is impossible to fault. Whether quietly reading, running in a tiger suit, singing with mom in the car, ears flapping in the breeze, or enjoying the safety of mom’s embrace, Pookie’s appeal continues unabated.

An unabashed love letter from mother. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3723-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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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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