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THE BARN

Sweet, reassuring, comforting.

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 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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. 28, 2018

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