A gentle, sweet read-aloud that will need grown-ups to help very young readers grasp the philosophical concepts.

GREAT BIG THINGS

The huge world can be overwhelming to a tiny mouse unless it is determined to fulfill a quest.

Readers have no idea what that quest is until the very end as they follow the mouse through vast global locations, sometimes not seeing it at all, sometimes catching a glimpse in a corner or among rocks or in the sea, or on an old-style steam locomotive, or perhaps on a jet flying overhead, and always carrying and carefully protecting a large crumb. Under star-filled night skies, through sunrises and sunsets, the mouse travels over all manner of Earth’s landforms and waters. Klocek’s graphite-and-digital illustrations are stunning in their scope and visual impact. Double-page spreads of deep canyons, endless deserts, rivers and waterfalls, forests and oceans, and ice fields beautifully capture the mouse’s challenging journey. A few, very faint, vaguely drawn map details with a red line indicating the mouse’s progress occasionally appear; as there is not always enough detail to read them, readers may find them more distracting than illuminating. Single lines of large-print text name the sights, moving the brave mouse to its destination with a breathless and greatly admiring and encouraging tone. But those big things seem small because it’s all about the love and commitment that make the dangers and difficulties worthwhile.

A gentle, sweet read-aloud that will need grown-ups to help very young readers grasp the philosophical concepts. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-77477-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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