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GOOD MORNING TO ME!

A few hearty squawks and a brisk bit of exercise—what better way to start the day? (Picture book. 5-7)

Unlike her snoozing friend Mouse, Beatrix is a morning person…er, parrot, who rises both in full voice and fully ready to torment the household cat.

Beatrix knows she’s supposed to be quiet, but she loves everyone and sometimes just can’t keep it in. Poor Mouse—the slumbering rodent is blasted awake by the parrot’s hearty “GOOD MORNING, MOUSE!” and then must grab a fork and spring to the rescue when the feathered fiend proves a touch too slow making an escape after waking Kitty (a fat and wonderfully disgruntled-looking Siamese) with a doggy “Rrrruuff!” Nor is the morning rumpus over as, following a furniture-upsetting skitter through the house with Gracie the beagle, the pernicious parrot needs rescue again after falling into the goldfish bowl! Beatrix’s irrepressible character stands out as brightly as her green and gold plumage in the loosely drawn illustrations, which Judge has otherwise toned down with washes of pale color and sometimes indistinct background details. Mouse’s enraged response to Beatrix’s chipper “What should we play next?” results in an apology, a (brief) return to peace and quiet, and an affectionate closing nuzzle. Young children who share Beatrix’s morning hyperactivity, or even just her flexible relationship with the idea of an “indoor voice,” will certainly relate…as will, without doubt, their parents.

A few hearty squawks and a brisk bit of exercise—what better way to start the day? (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0369-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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THE INVISIBLE BOY

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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