Equal parts wistful and uplifting—a small triumph.

NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST

A previously unpublished story from the author of Goodnight Moon takes flight in this poignant, charming picture book.

A little bird readies herself to fly from her nest. From her mother, the little bird learns how to move effortlessly on the wind and avoid storms. In their nest in the sycamore tree, the mother bird sings a song as the little bird asks, “When I fly away, which is best, / North, South, East, or West?” Soon the little bird is off on her own under the light of the sun. She first flies to the North, where chilly white reigns: much too cold to build a nest. The South, with its jumble of greens and flowers, proves too hot. Beside the sea in the West, the little bird remembers the sycamore tree. Clearly, “the East was home.” Unfolding at a gentle pace, Brown’s story ruminates on the idea of leaving—and returning to—home with great compassion. Likewise, the author exposes unspoken depths that make up the parent-child bond, offering nuance and complexity in measured words. Full of simple, curved shapes set in evocative alignments, Pizzoli’s illustrations complement the story well. They’re mostly unadorned and restrained, underlining the strength of simplicity in jump-starting the imagination. A bittersweet ending makes this homecoming feel altogether real.

Equal parts wistful and uplifting—a small triumph. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-026278-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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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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Still, this may be just the ticket for harried moms who want to point out all they do for their kids and get a little help...

HOW TO RAISE A MOM

From the How To... series

Mothers finally get their due from Reagan and Wildish, who instruct readers on how to raise a happy and healthy mom.

A white brother-and-sister pair are readers’ guides, and the day starts with how to wake Mom up: let her sleep in a little, kiss her, and serve breakfast in bed (in Wildish’s humorous digital illustrations, whole fruits—including a pineapple and a lime—a box of popcorn, and juice). The kids ready Mom for the day by dressing her (!) and piling everything necessary at the door. Stuck in a long line at the store? If a surprise treat and acting silly fail, just say, “Thank you so much, Sweet Pea, for being so patient.” The day continues with time for work, outside play, and relaxing, followed by some tips about eating vegetables and bedtime routines. While many of the pages are laugh-out-loud funny, this misses the mark in terms of consistency, sometimes prodding kids to do nice things (breakfast in bed, tidy up for her), sometimes reversing the parent and child roles (the hilarious scene in the store), and other times just showing what moms regularly do anyway (playing outdoors, sitting and chatting with another mom on a “playdate”).

Still, this may be just the ticket for harried moms who want to point out all they do for their kids and get a little help in return—sly fun in other words. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-53829-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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