Pitch-perfect, well-paced and with a conclusion that will leave children deeply satisfied, this is a book to be shared...

A VACATION FOR POOCH

In this small-enough-to-pack storybook, Violet and her dog, Pooch, take separate vacations: Violet to the beach, Pooch to Grandpa’s farm.

In a scene children will recognize, they each prepare a bag. Violet packs her doll Molly and crayons; Pooch, his stuffed Fluffy Cat and red ball. Violet worries that Pooch will miss her, although when she arrives at the beach, bright gouache-and–fabric-collage illustrations show that she’s happily distracted, playing, walking and dining. With a turn of the page, the action comes to a halt. In a full-page spread, readers see Violet in bed pulling Fluffy Cat instead of Molly from her bag. The guilt sets in. Violet’s crisis is well-placed, and what follows is her rapid, emotional recap of her activities contrasted with what she imagines Pooch must have suffered, bored and lonely, concluding with, “While I was having FUN, Pooch was MISERABLE!” Mom suggests a phone call to Grandpa. At first nonplussed when Grandpa tells her that Pooch has had a busy day, too, she is reassured when she learns that Pooch is sleeping with Molly—and remembers that she has Fluffy Cat—making their connection tangible and secure. Cocca-Leffler knows children inside and out.

Pitch-perfect, well-paced and with a conclusion that will leave children deeply satisfied, this is a book to be shared before any kind of separation and just for fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9106-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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