BABAR'S LITTLE GIRL

Babar and the serenely pastoral country around Celesteville are back, with a new daughter's early years and misdemeanors. The other elephant children are delighted with Isabelle, the admired youngest in a loving family. After precociously learning to walk, she's the one who engineers the escape of a turtle caught under a hippopotamus. Rescuing a cat is the occasion of her first careless AWOL; chided by bet father, the king. she soon forgets. This time, she wanders further afield, into the Blue Valley, where she meets two debonair but indeterminate animals, named Boover and Picardee, who share a mansion. They spend a day playing together—poker, jazz—but later, when they settle down for TV, they see Babar reporting Isabelle's disappearance. So they take her home, by hang glider, and the siblings don't believe a word of it; but Babar and Celeste welcome her with open arms and no reproaches. If this were the first Babar book, what would we make of it? It's hard to say; perhaps its world, where events may be tragic (the first book caused a controversy because Babar's mother was shot by a hunter), but kindness and order are the norm, would still give pleasure. As another in a well-loved series, it's a welcome restatement of one of childhood's themes in a grand, familiar setting.

Pub Date: April 15, 1987

ISBN: 0810957035

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1987

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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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