Gentle, humorous, and fun.

THE THREE BROTHERS

Young brothers Finn, Leo, and Ooley set off to find wild animals in the woods near their farmhouse.

The art—involving pencils, watercolor, wax crayons, and white ink—immediately draws readers in. Three Muppet-like boys with dark hair and beige skin comfortably share a pale-green sofa and a stack of books while birds fly above them and ghostly images of nonthreatening wild mammals surround them. Pastels and muted primary colors form a pleasing palette that continues throughout. “Every night, Finn reads a story to his brothers.” The text goes on to say that the boys enjoy stories with adventures and wild animals; middle child Leo suggests that tomorrow, the boys should go exploring for wild animals. By this time, little Ooley is already asleep, setting the stage for more toddler behaviors that will charm young readers. The text is simple, suitable for independent, transitional readers and for reading aloud. As the boys trudge through deep snow—with Ooley in his bear suit always lagging behind—readers, but not the boys, see ghostly animals in and around tree trunks. While the older brothers have a brief discussion that hints of the effects of climate change on animal populations, readers—but not Finn and Leo—will see Ooley happily sliding away down a hill. Other than brief mentions of Grandpa, no adults clutter this tale of siblings who are resourceful, creative, and kind. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Gentle, humorous, and fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-377-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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