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

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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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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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