A well-constructed book that depicts a healthy male friendship.

READ REVIEW

LARRY AND BOB

Two animal fathers form an unusual friendship in this quirky but touching picture book from author Schaufeld and illustrator Schwarz (The Lollipop Tree, 2013).

Larry is a bald eagle guarding his egg in a tall tree. Bob is a smallmouth bass, “protecting 19,003 eggs” in the river below. When Larry catches Bob, the fish doesn’t simply accept his fate as a meal; he appeals to Larry, “dad to dad,” agreeing to let the eagle eat him in one year, after his own fry are grown. Larry is skeptical but makes the deal, and ultimately, this decision saves the life of his chick, Larry Junior, whom Bob later rescues when he falls into the river. When Bob finally goes to meet his fate, Larry can’t eat him—after all, the fish saved his son. Instead, they form an unlikely friendship. The eagle confesses that, as a solitary bird, he feels lonely, and Bob, despite being surrounded by other fish, reveals that he feels the same. For years, the predator and prey meet at a rock, swim and fly upstream together, and talk about their problems. But eventually, Bob’s age catches up with him, and he asks Larry to take him on one last flight. Overall, this is a touching story, and Schaufeld tells it in a calm, melodic style. The placement of the two male characters as caregivers and primary parents puts a nice spin on gender expectations. Schwarz’s realistic paintings are beautifully rendered and include some exquisite landscapes. Kids will enjoy finding the dragonfly that Schwarz has hidden on each page, but adults will appreciate the illustrator’s unique eye; for example, several paintings show the fish’s perspective from underwater, and the textured results are suitable for framing.

A well-constructed book that depicts a healthy male friendship.

Pub Date: June 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9972299-0-5

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Quidne Press

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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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

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