This story of determination and friendship is simply and consistently told.


From the Woodland Friends series

Bear is eager to prepare for the Summer Scoot but realizes learning to ride a bicycle from a book is harder than it appears.

Sure that his bicycle is in good shape and ready, Bear attempts his first ride by applying the instructions he has reviewed in Learn To Ride in Five Easy Steps. First he straddles the bike, next he grips the handlebars, then he begins to pedal by pushing off—but his attempts to balance result in a “Pedal-wibble. Pedal-wobble. Crash!” Complaining that it was not easy at all, Bear walks his bike to the library to find a different instruction book. Along the way he meets three friends: Porcupine, Doe, and Squirrel, each one at a different stage of mastery. In exchanges that are equal parts commiseration and encouragement, Bear learns that a new book is not the answer when he can keep trying and practicing with the support of his friends as Summer Scoot draws near. The message of perseverance is augmented with fine-lined cartoon drawings offering depth and color to a kind, purposeful narrative. All animals wear helmets with tightly buckled chin straps, the massive Bear looking particularly comical. A two-page addendum outlines ways to care for and responsibly ride a two-wheeler courtesy of Bear and his riding buddies.

This story of determination and friendship is simply and consistently told. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5064-6569-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beaming Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Hee haw.

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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