A fine addition to the nursery bookshelf for baby and all.



Ashman’s fresh take on the classic lullaby “Rock-A-Bye, Baby” first expands upon and then addresses the nonsensical aspects of the verses.

A wordless page facing the copyright information shows the familiar image of a baby asleep in a treetop cradle. Even though the baby is smiling and the cradle appears to be securely lodged, there is something unsettling about the high perch. The page turn reveals the now-empty cradle with the accompanying verse, “Evening is near now. / Hear the wind blow. / Branches are shaking… / Where’d Baby go?” What follows is a succession of increasingly silly resting or play scenarios for baby—first the tot lands in a bird’s nest, then atop a pig, then next to a sheep, and so on. Tumbles and flights resolve into a homecoming to mother’s arms, where the scene reveals a nursery decorated with the animals and places of baby’s adventures. This suggests that baby was always with mother, who made up this rock-a-bye romp of a song for her little one, concluding it with the lines, “Sweet little Baby, rocking with me— / Who’d put a cradle high in a tree? / Babies in trees are fine in a song… // But you, little one, / are where you belong.” Mulazzani’s mixed-media art indulges in delightful decorative details that provide visual interest, but it stops short of fully indulging in the silliness of the playful verses.

A fine addition to the nursery bookshelf for baby and all. (Picture book. 0-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17150-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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.


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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