Sweet and delightful and totally charming.

HAVE YOU EVER ZEEN A ZIZ?

What in the world is a ziz?

It is an extraordinary, amazing bird. She has a wingspan that can block the sky, but she’s gentle and sweet, with kindness for all, playing with children and guarding farmers’ crops. Oh yes, she also sings from morning to night, when she’s alone or at play with friends or in her nest on high. The songs can be happy or sad, but they are always loud. When she takes “a little shluffy,” incorporating a Yiddish word for a child’s nap, the singing ends, only to be replaced by even louder snores. Marshall tells this very slight tale in lilting, vaguely Seussian singsong rhymes that fly across the pages along with the mysterious ziz. In a note Marshall cites biblical Jewish writings naming this bird that inspired her to bring it to life. Reed’s brightly hued illustrations interpret Marshall’s vision of the ziz and are designed with unfettered imagination and verve. When the bird stands on her yellow feet on land, her orange crown and yellow beak reach through the clouds. Her huge orange wings are in perfect proportion to her very long neck and flexible body. The work begs to be read aloud—or, better yet, together—and the large print with a smattering of italics provides cues for fun-filled interpretations.

Sweet and delightful and totally charming. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3173-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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