Sweet, reassuring, comforting.

THE BARN

Introducing a familiar farmyard presence.

A barn sided in red cedar narrates this soothing story and describes its daily routine, overseeing the animals it lovingly shelters and nurtures. Each spread following the initial setup opens with the line “I am a barn.” The barn begins with a discussion of the communal barn raising that brought it forth over a century earlier; readers will learn details about its construction and how it has stood strong over time. Though not written in verse, the narrative is gently poetic; the simple, straightforward prose brims with pleasant consonants and assonants, and, indeed, the rolling, rhythmic text appeals to all the senses. Slower-paced read-alouds will not only reward listeners, but also allow kids to savor the delightful, muted painted images of greenery, farmland, and the barn’s residents: chickens that “amble out of my coop”; cows that “chomp on tall, rich grass”; and dogs that “romp and wrestle in my outstretched fields.” Calves, barn swallows, and a cat and her adorable brood also appear. Unsurprisingly, the book concludes after almost everyone has fallen asleep within the barn’s cozy embrace. Children will happily note the open-door welcome to the kitty on the last page as she returns home from a scary encounter midway through the story. The dozers are, naturally, a signal to sleepy readers, confirmed with the barn’s final whisper, “I am your barn.” Several humans depicted present White.

Sweet, reassuring, comforting. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0906-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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