A SNOW DAY FOR HANNAH

A puppy goes on joyful adventures in this photo-filled rhyming picture book.

  Hannah is an adorable Bernese Mountain Dog puppy who loves to play in the snow. After realizing that a snowstorm is coming, Hannah hurries inside—only to return outdoors to sled, build a snowman and hike through the woods once the sun has returned. The photographs, full of breathtaking scenery, are engaging, particularly those that show Hannah in action. However, the rhymes are often forced and contain challenging vocabulary for young readers: "As she headed for home / she could feel the storm coming / with her fine sense of smell, / her sight, and her cunning." Bunch gives Hannah the gift of speech, attributing observations directly to the young pup ("The air smells so clean!" / She barked right out loud), but in most instances, Hannah acts like a normal pooch. The moments she takes on human qualities are jarring, such as when she is buried up to her neck in a snow angel. Evidence of humans is clearly present, such as when Hannah walks along a paved road or perches in a human-sized chair to watch the snowfall from inside. The story would be stronger if a human appeared to create a snow angel—or "help" Hannah build a snowman—rather than anthropomorphizing the puppy. Furthermore, some of the digital editing makes Hannah and landmarks, such as a sign for a hiking trail, appear superimposed. Hannah's genuine poses and the scenery are so delightful that the editing feels unnecessary. Very young readers, however, aren’t likely to be concerned with such incongruities. Hannah is an engaging enough character that awkward moments in the narration and pressures to suspend disbelief are easily forgiven. Practiced readers struggling with the advanced vocabulary may be less satisfied.   With a cute hero and gorgeous vistas depicted in clear, bright photos, young readers will happily curl up on a parent's lap to see Hannah's antics.

 

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0977778119

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Book Club Productions

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2012

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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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