A pleasant outdoor adventure with a calm animal cast and an easy introduction to numbers.

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FRIENDS COUNT

A dog finds many new friends in this debut counting book.

A small dog wearing a yellow kerchief around his neck is lonely. When he encounters two cats, he offers to share his bone with them; they decline but are happy to play with him, nonetheless. The trio meet three frogs, four chicks (and one uncounted mother hen), five kites, six bees, and more groups of birds, plants, and insects—up to a count of 10 in a group. Some of these join the party, but others are simply part of the scenery as the friends go on their way. At the end of the day, the dog is sad to say goodbye, “But then he remember[s] all the fun he had” and looks forward to future adventures. Brown’s rhymes are well constructed, although in some stanzas, the rhythm falters slightly. Harvey’s mixed-media illustrations combine linework with very soft watercolor backgrounds; even the color of a red barn feels subdued. Although there’s some action—a rainstorm catches the friends unaware—most of the story is as low-key as the color scheme, making this a good choice for bedtime reading. Lap readers will enjoy pointing at and counting the numbered creatures, objects, and plants.

A pleasant outdoor adventure with a calm animal cast and an easy introduction to numbers.

Pub Date: March 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949711-66-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bluewater Publications

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2020

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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 comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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