Agreeable animal fun but weightless as a too-brief visit to the zoo.

SLOTH TO THE RESCUE

When a girl leaves her school project at the zoo, it’s up to Sloth and his faster-moving friends to deliver the notebook back to her.

Patti’s been spending her summer working on a set of drawings to turn in at the beginning of school. Sloth, who looks like a fuzzy gray log with an expressive, wide face, adores Patti, who, like Sloth, never seems in any rush. When Sloth notices she’s left her notebook, he calls to action Peccary, Boa, Capuchin, and Ocelot to give him some assistance. Slowly, of course: “Let’s. go. on. a. field. trip…” he suggests. Shirtliffe cleverly assigns tasks according to the animals’ strengths. When they arrive at Patti’s school, Peccary is great at lining up, skin-shedding Boa fits right in in the coat room, and so on. Sloth, for his part, can meditate and remain calm until he locates Patti. Lively illustrations throughout portray superfriendly animals, Sloth in particular, interacting with charmed children at a school that clearly has great liability insurance. Backmatter explains some of the behaviors of animals and people that inspired the book, ending with a useful plug for animal-rescue centers. For all its charm, however, the story stops a little short and feels lightweight overall, without adding much to the current vogue of sloths as cuddly spirit animals for the unrushed or perpetually late.

Agreeable animal fun but weightless as a too-brief visit to the zoo. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9159-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Hee haw.

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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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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