There’s much to identify with in this gentle, perceptive book, no matter the gender or species.



Kaplanoglou pokes light fun at the yin/yang of the mother/daughter experience.

Mothers and daughters have different concerns as they wend their ways through the world. Kaplanoglou counterpoises, in a simple scheme of two sentences per double-page spread, the elder and youthful approaches: “Mama Bear dreams while she sleeps. Little Bear dreams while awake.” Mama Bear is protective: “Mama Bear runs and hides for safety. Little Bear thinks hiding is a game.” And both have their bugbears, as it were: “Mama Bear is afraid of too much light. Little Bear is afraid of darkness.” Carefully blending and bleeding his watercolors, Ferri brings a soft smokiness to the proceedings (in which Mama Bear wears a string of pearls), heightening the tenderness of the bears’ relationship, despite some disagreements: “Mama Bear wonders why Little Bears acts naughty.” It looks as though Little Bear has pasted lily pads on Mama Bear. “Little Bear wonders why Mama Bear always says ‘don’t.’ ” Such is life, but while Mama Bear is there to instruct and shelter—“Mama Bear sleeps with her back to the snow. Little Bear sleeps with her back against Mama Bear”—she also knows when to loosen the apron strings: “Mama Bear treads familiar paths. Little Bear likes to find new paths.” Affection runs through the story like a lazy stream.

There’s much to identify with in this gentle, perceptive book, no matter the gender or species. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-988-8341-22-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minedition

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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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. 29, 2018

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.


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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