Sincere and serene, with masterful, atmospheric illustrations.

GOOD-BYE, WINTER! HELLO, SPRING!

Three anthropomorphic squirrel siblings explore the diminishingly snowy landscape of their forest home in this picture book.

First published in Japan in 1985, author/illustrator Iwamura’s quiet story has a timeless and ethereal feel. While the story is cutely ingenuous, the main appeal is the masterful watercolor illustrations, which are all full-bleed, double-page spreads rendered in a soft gray-green palette for the woods, while the squirrel protagonists, dressed in old-fashioned clothing (think Beatrix Potter), are rendered in complementary soft oranges and browns. The landscapes are gently layered; the pale branches of trees overlap and become darker as the perspective moves closer to viewers; the overall effect is one of deep, magical atmosphere. Three young squirrel siblings, Mack, Molly, and Mick, go out exploring in the melting snow and are curious about where the snow goes. They see a floating log and hop on, drifting (now anxiously) to a large pond, where they are rescued by some mallards, who tell them that the melted snow “goes to a river and then to the sea…it’s a time of rebirth.” The rhyming text, translated from the Japanese into German by Rose Pflock and then into English by Wilson, has a few awkward moments when it reaches for the rhyme as well as some disjointed areas. Still, it mostly succeeds at creating a lilting tone while getting across the deeper theme of the rebirth of spring, which is presented without fanfare or sanctimony.

Sincere and serene, with masterful, atmospheric illustrations. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4345-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.”

NOODLE AND THE NO BONES DAY

Graziano tells the story of his TikTok-famous pug, Noodle.

Noodle is a silly, stubborn old pug who likes walks and snacks. “He’s a pug who knows what he wants.” Jonathan, his light-skinned owner, loves taking Noodle for walks and sharing snacks—they are a perfect pair. But one day, when it’s time for a walk, Noodle just lies in his dog bed. Even when Jonathan tries to make Noodle sit up, Noodle flops back down. “It’s like he doesn’t have bones!” says Jonathan. Noodle doesn’t seem sick—he just wants snacks and to stay in bed. Finally, Jonathan asks if Noodle would just like to snuggle instead and receives a strong affirmative from the drowsy pug. Together Noodle and his human enjoy a relaxing “no bones day” and learn an important lesson about rest and why it matters for silly, stubborn old pugs and for the humans who love them, too. Many may already be familiar with Noodle through his TikTok videos (if Noodle remains standing when Graziano lifts him, it’s a “bones day”; among Noodle’s followers, a “no bones day” has come to mean a day for self-care and taking it easy). However, this story stands alone and will likely create new fans for a long time to come. Hand-drawn and painted digitally, Tavis’ illustrations rely on a muted palette and rounded images, depicting an appropriately cozy world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.” (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66592-710-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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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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