Bernard’s conquest of his inner fear stands out as a quiet triumph.

BERNARD MAKES A SPLASH!

In this British import, the canine manager of a swimming pool enters a diving contest and overcomes his fear of the high diving board.

Bernard is a basset hound who manages the pool by day and secretly practices diving by himself at night. When elite dog divers gather for the pool’s annual competition, Bernard somehow signs up to participate. When it is his turn to dive, however, Bernard is too nervous to even try to participate in the first round. He has another chance in the second heat and finds encouragement from his new friend, a female German wirehaired pointer and accomplished diver named Perrie Piccalilli. Bernard completes his dive with somersaults, spirals, and spins, and he receives a special gold-star award for his efforts. The humorous, rhyming text is uneven in quality, with some lines spot-on in dramatic cadence and a few word pairs that break the rhythm or stretch for meaning and/or rhyme. The divers are a diverse cast of canines, including many breeds and both males and females. The audience for the competition includes other kinds of animals and people of many races. Mixed-media illustrations with collage elements have a loose, impressionistic effect and include endearing expressions on Bernard’s anxious face. An enticing cover shows Bernard diving into the pool; a hand-scrawled title in what looks like black crayon attracts with its naïve charm.

Bernard’s conquest of his inner fear stands out as a quiet triumph. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-84976-660-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tate/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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