ALL WE KNOW

Echoing Ecclesiastes, Ashman explores ordinary miracles through the seasons.

“A cloud knows how to rain. / The thunder, how to boom. // A bulb knows when it’s time to sleep / and when it’s time to bloom.” The gentle rhymes continue as the pages turn, the seasons changing from spring to summer, then fall to winter. Seeds sprout, lambs bleat, waves tumble to the shore, swallows migrate, oak leaves fall, bears hibernate, and hares change to their winter coats. “And—not so very long ago, / on a moonlit night— / you knew how to tell me / that the time was finally right. // The days know how to march along / no matter what we do. / And I know how to love you. / No one taught me… // I just knew.” Ashman’s poetic verses are perfectly complemented by Dyer’s watercolor, acrylic, pencil, and gouache illustrations, which portray the natural world realistically, from the eyelashes on the lamb and the fuzz on the bee to the needles on the evergreen. A curly-haired blond cherub with wonderfully chubby pink cheeks is the focus, enjoying the wonders of nature. When the thunder booms and the waves crash, mother is there to soothe and protect, love, and provide a lap for reading this very book. 

Simply beautiful. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-168958-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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