Effervescent and life affirming; a magical ode to a joyful time.

HAPPY SPRINGTIME!

Hooray! The season of renewal is here.

Take heed, all who suffer from the bleak, snowy winter doldrums: Marvelous changes are at hand. The hours of daylight expand; new colors, smells, and sounds burst forth everywhere; animals of all sorts are born and revel; plants regenerate; and outdoor activities both wet and dry encourage eager participation. “Rejoice in the rain you walkers with colorful umbrellas, you puddle jumpers, you small brown birds splashing on sidewalks, you lovers of mud.” This lovely tribute to the renewal of life and possibilities and the promise of fresh new beginnings is the perfect introduction for young children to the magical renaissance that follows each year’s icy darkness. The narrative zings with exuberance. Though not written in verse, the gently rhythmic text is almost poetic and reads beautifully thanks to its liberal use throughout of well-chosen alliterative and assonant words and phrases, demanding that this book be read aloud. Children will appreciate the frequent reminders that “The days are growing longer!” An easily comprehensible scientific explanation helps convey facts about the spring equinox and the beginning of summer (though that season isn’t named), and very little kids get the opportunity to practice some simple counting, too. Cheery illustrations are rendered in watercolor, ink, pencil, and collage, and pages are awash with gorgeous color and ebullience—like spring itself. Spreads show humans and animals engaging in various activities, and people depicted show diversity.

Effervescent and life affirming; a magical ode to a joyful time. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4551-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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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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