Bear-y fun.

READ REVIEW

ANOTHER BOOK ABOUT BEARS.

A story about a bear begins...but the bear has had enough.

The “old brown bear” derails the story, much to the narrator’s perturbation, and proclaims that bears are exhausted by constantly having to “perform” all these stories whenever “you” open a book, when they’d rather be “sleeping, snoozing or napping.” Bears quit! At first, the narrator gets even by reciting ridiculous antics for the bear to act out, like wearing a tutu while riding a tiny bicycle. The bear makes an offer—get another, “better” animal star. But the narrator dismisses all the candidates the bear puts forth, citing certain flaws for each. An echidna’s “too spiky,” a dodo “too extinct,” a star-nosed mole “too…whoa!” Once the bear runs through all the animals in its contacts, the narrator claims bears are the natural stars for stories because they “are just right.” They strike a compromise: The bear gets to hibernate while some other animals take over key roles in the tale of “Goldilocks & the Three Bears.” This metanarrative is made especially entertaining by its conversational tone. Two easily distinguishable, but not fussily designed, text styles demarcate the two speakers of the book. The art is reminiscent of Jon Klassen’s, with the animals in predominantly static poses against plain backgrounds, but with stronger colors. The creatures are highly geometric in shape, and their perfectly round eyes manage to convey heaps of emotions. The inclusion of some nonstandard animals in the cast also helps to sustain interest.

Bear-y fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68464-084-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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