HOW SLEEP FOUND TABITHA

A young child restlessly awaits the arrival of sleep. Perched in her bed, Tabitha surveys her room and the myriad stuffed animals strewn across every surface. In her imagination, her beloved toys become animate, beseeching her to share sleeping quarters with them. From the murky depths of the whale’s seabed to towering heights of an eagle’s nest, Tabitha contemplates the resting-places of various animals. They describe their favorite napping spots in playful singsong rhymes. “ ‘Come slither to sleep where it’s dark and it’s deep’ whispered the snake.” Tabitha eagerly pretends to be a rabbit or seal, etc., envisioning her bed as a burrow, sea-drenched rocks, and more. DeVries balances Tabitha’s fanciful musings with pragmatic reality; a burrow is full of dirt, rocks are uncomfortable to sleep on, and so forth. Sleep eventually arrives in the form of a cuddly companion, with Tabitha’s gray cat snuggling into bed with the drowsy child. The watercolor illustrations are gracefully executed, artfully capturing both the luminescent beauty of the young child and offering stunning images of the different wildlife. Tabitha’s bedroom is a swirl of twilight-colored hues; soothing sapphires blend with brighter periwinkles, creating the dappled shadows from which her ingenious imaginings emerge. An engaging blend of whimsy and thoughtful reflection, this tale convincingly assures sleep-wary tots that their cozy beds are just the spot for them. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-55143-193-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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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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Well-nigh Wondrous.

IT FELL FROM THE SKY

When a strange orb falls into their habitat, the Spider commandeers it, constructing “WonderVille” and selling tickets to long lines of curious insects.

The object (readers will recognize it as a yellow-green marble) invites considerable speculation. Is it a gumdrop, a comet, a chrysalis? The Spider, nixing the chatter, asserts that “whatever it is, it most certainly belongs to me,” insisting that the sphere has fallen into his web. He constructs a “Grand Exhibit” to showcase “the Wonder from the Sky.” As lines of visitors lengthen, admission increases from one leaf to two—then more—until visitors cease. The Spider presumes they’ve gone to invite prospective customers. That self-aggrandizing assumption is rendered moot by “the Unexpected Disaster. / A five-legged creature stole the Wonder and took it back to the sky.” (This deus ex machina is a child’s hand.) Time passes, WonderVille reverts to its previous state, and insects return. The Spider, ignored, experiences a nighttime epiphany as stars shine down. “They didn’t hide their light from anyone. Not even a selfish Spider.” Patiently, he spins webs, and “sure enough, more Wonders fell from the sky.” In graphite-gray spreads rife with delicate flora, colorful new “Wonders” (a thimble, pushpin, Lego, and more) captivate the neighborhood—free of charge. The Fans’ marvelous illustrations sparkle with nuance, from lofting dandelion seeds to the Spider’s dew-dropped web. The pro-community message is slightly undermined by the choice to portray a gendered, top-hatted, preponderantly male cast. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Well-nigh Wondrous. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5762-1

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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