A subtle tale, perhaps best read to a thoughtful child in the intimate setting of a winter bedtime.

READ REVIEW

WINTER MOON SONG

Quiet but joyful, this is an original story based on a traditional theme found in many cultures.

The author’s note mentions that in some Native American cultures, as well as in China, Korea and Japan, the trope of the rabbit in the moon is well-known. Brooks learned about it from a Lakota elder and then spun her own tale. A young rabbit in a northern clime learns the “Winter Moon Song.” On his way home from rehearsal for the annual performance, he stops in the woods and looks up at the image of the “rabbit-in-the-moon” and remembers the story, told by his mother, of love and sacrifice binding together the Great Mother, Creator Rabbit (imagined by Brooks), and one of her earthly creations, a little rabbit. The song continues to honor this story and is meant to “lighten the darkest month of the year with a trail of magic.” Yet the new singer is not satisfied with the performance. Instead of the churchlike place with candlelight where the rabbits gather, he starts to sing right under the moon, “with the rabbit pattern clearly visible,” beginning a new tradition. The soft watercolors, in subdued gray and deep blue, with some contrasting warm brown and golden shades, set a tranquil tone.

A subtle tale, perhaps best read to a thoughtful child in the intimate setting of a winter bedtime. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55498-320-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long.

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THE SERIOUS GOOSE

Bet you can’t make this goose smile, no matter how hard you try.

TV personality Kimmel’s first foray into picture books presents a feathered grump with a scowl that is proof against any kind of foolery: Try putting a chicken on her head, dressing her as a moose, or even trucking in a snail pizza—this goose won’t crack. Breaking now and again into verse, he challenges readers to give it a try in a foil mirror: “Cluck like a chicken / moo like a cow / be doofy, be goofy / any way you know how”—and sure enough, eventually a grin bursts out to replace the grimace despite a multipage struggle to hold it in, and off prances the goose in a pair of (gender-bending) tighty whities. Yes, she’s become “a SILLY goose (thanks to you),” the narrator proclaims, and what’s more, “YOU are a silly kid.” A hand-lettered narrative in block printing big enough to take up most of the space accompanies thick-lined cartoon views of a goosey glare that dares readers to crank up the volume, and the last page turn reveals a final tweak that may add a few grown-up voices to the younger chorus of giggles.

The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-70775-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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