A fun blend of realistic and ridiculous that will appeal to a broad audience.

READ REVIEW

A COUCH FOR LLAMA

When the Lago family has sat, spilled, and jumped on their beloved couch one time too many, a misadventure equal parts practical and absurd begins.

The racially mixed family of five (dad has brown skin and straight, black hair; mom is white; children are brown) piles into their cramped car and travels through the rural setting into town, where the furniture store is having a sale. They find their new couch and strap it to the roof. On the way home, unbeknownst to the Lagos, the couch slips off the roof and into a field, where a curious llama awaits. At first the llama doesn’t know what to make of the couch. It’s unfriendly, tastes terrible, and won’t move. Exasperated, he flops down on the couch—and then understands its function. When the Lago family returns to the field to claim the couch, the llama refuses to give it up. The family is too thoughtful to leave the llama empty-handed, so they come up with a plan to satisfy everyone. The sweet and silly premise comes to life through the illustrations. Small details express the family’s tenderness and frugality. The llama is endearing, and his curiosity and playfulness shine. Readers may wonder, however, how the family manages to get this stubborn creature off of the couch, as this part of the action is conspicuously absent.

A fun blend of realistic and ridiculous that will appeal to a broad audience. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2511-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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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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