The story is serious about its shift from glum to optimistic, but the background colors and the animals’ humorous...

HOW DO YOU DO?

One animal helps two animals out of the doldrums.

Water Buffalo and Crane are in a rut. The weather’s too hot, and “when one is all the time hot, days grow long and the world small.” Indeed, their hill is exaggeratedly rounded, as if they’re standing on a shrunken Earth. The air’s yellow; Water Buffalo’s eyelids are at half-mast, and he licks sweat off his lip. Their expressions are amusing—but not to them. What can break their sweltering, oppressive gloom? “ ‘How do you do?’ said someone new.” An unforeseen rhyme! Goat licks Water Buffalo and Crane, and “then, as sudden as summer rain, Goat started dancing.” Dancing is contagious. The three dance so high their heads leave the page. “They forgot the sun. They forgot the heat. Had the earth ever smelled so sweet?” Using gouache paint on watercolor paper, Marino swirls her hot yellows into cooler blues and greens, then finally into blue-pinks. Goat departs, but Crane and Water Buffalo are changed for good: the earth feels pleasant, and there are new animals to greet. Is the “summer rain,” as per the text, merely a figure of speech describing Goat’s sudden dancing? Or is it as real as the illustrations show it, sprinkling down? Does it matter?

The story is serious about its shift from glum to optimistic, but the background colors and the animals’ humorous expressions keep it light throughout—anyone who’s needed this kind of intervention will relate. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61963-807-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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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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