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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This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character


From the Pedro series , Vol. 1

The creators of the Katie Woo series turn their focus to a peripheral character, first-grader Pedro—Katie’s friend and schoolmate.

Four short chapters—“Pedro Goes Buggy,” “Pedro’s Big Goal,” “Pedro’s Mystery Club,” and “Pedro For President”—highlight a Latino main character surrounded by a superbly diverse cast. At times unsure of himself, Pedro is extremely likable, for he wants to do his best and is a fair friend. He consistently comes out on top, even when his younger brother releases all the bugs he’s captured for a class assignment or when self-assured bully Roddy tries to unite opposition to Pedro’s female opponent (Katie Woo) in the race for first-grade class president. Using a third-person, past-tense narrative voice, Manushkin expands her repertoire by adding a hero comparable to EllRay Jakes. What is refreshing about the book is that for the most part, aside from Roddy’s gender-based bullying, the book overcomes boy-girl stereotypes: girls and boys play soccer, boys and girls run for president, girls and boys hunt for bugs, all setting a progressive standard for chapter books. With mixed-media illustrations featuring colorful bugs, soccer action, a mystery hunt, and a presidential campaign, Lyon’s attention to detail in color and facial expressions complements the story nicely.

This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character . (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5158-0112-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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