A tale of plucky poultry sure to inspire those who are afraid they may be too chicken to follow their dreams.

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ZELDA'S BIG ADVENTURE

Zelda is a hen with a plan: “to be the first chicken in space.”

Zelda has already built her spaceship, planned the experiments she’ll carry out in space, and trained for weightlessness (by suspending herself from a tree limb). Now, all she needs is a little help from her friends. Walter the rooster won’t help with her spacesuit (he doesn’t sew!). Mike is too busy to help with the heat shielding. And Bella the hen does not “do DIY,” so she can’t help with the control panel. Zelda goes it alone; despite some difficulty counting backward at countdown, she blasts off into space! After a successful mission of weighing stardust and counting planets, she returns home to find that her friends claim partial credit for her success. Zelda’s not fazed…in fact, the stars were lonely; she plans to take some company on her next astral adventure. Australian duo Alafaci and McG have crafted a space-age “Little Red Hen” (who is white here), and even those who know the traditional tale will admire Zelda’s pluck and forgiving nature. McG’s burnished illustrations in a muted palette, full of barnyard tech and expressive chickens, pair well with Alafaci’s straightforward text.

A tale of plucky poultry sure to inspire those who are afraid they may be too chicken to follow their dreams. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-328-66081-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

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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