The gentle tone of both the story and the illustrations is a refreshing, pleasant take on the theme of helping someone in...

FINDING CHRISTMAS

Three animal friends rescue a sick swallow and nurse her back to health in time to celebrate Christmas together.

Squirrel, Mouse, and Hare are busy decorating and baking for Christmas in their cozy burrow in a snowy hillside. When Mouse heads out to find a present for Hare, she stumbles across a swallow lying nearly dead in the snow. The three friends work together to get Swallow back to their burrow, where they tenderly care for her. The animals use two presents they have prepared for one another to help Swallow: brewing medicinal tea from coneflower blossoms and stretching out a warm, knitted hat to fit the sick bird’s head. As Swallow recovers, she sings beautiful music for them, providing a gift for Hare, who loves music. The simple story is gracefully told, with understated prose that complements the minimalist watercolor-and-ink illustrations in a muted palette. The stylized animals are drawn with tiny repeating dashes of ink in patterned lines to indicate fur in an intriguing way. The mammals’ eyes are depicted as curved lines, as are the swallow’s in most illustrations.

The gentle tone of both the story and the illustrations is a refreshing, pleasant take on the theme of helping someone in need and enjoying the bonds of friendship. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8075-2433-6

Page Count: 37

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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