A lovely, untrammeled look at a pet’s afterlife.

GOLDFISH GHOST

The ghost of a pet goldfish searches for a new home in this newest picture book from Snicket.

“Goldfish Ghost was born on the surface of the water in a bowl on the dresser in a boy’s room.” So begins a sweet and somber tale of a literal fish out of water, who finds the afterlife exceedingly lonely. A pale umbra carried by the wind, Goldfish Ghost floats quietly (and perpetually upside down) out of his bowl in search of conversation and company. But “it can be hard to find the company you are looking for,” and though he comes upon a flock of shrieking birds over the pier, a crowd of sunbathers on the beach, and even several ghosts of sea creatures hovering above the ocean, none feel quite right. Late in the day, just when he has given up, Goldfish Ghost at last hears a friendly voice of another lonely ghost hoping to find a friend, and settled atop a lighthouse, the two make excellent company. Although they occupy the same space on the page as their living counterparts, the ghostly specters (marked by their solid white coloring) are suffused with quiet emotion as they move between spreads. Mirroring the text’s unhurried and occasionally awkwardly paced narrative, Brown expertly and with deceptive simplicity sets the questing ghosts apart from the frenetic bustle of the living world.

A lovely, untrammeled look at a pet’s afterlife. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-507-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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