Celebrating both community and individuality, this droll, funny offering will tickle kids and adults alike.

READ REVIEW

POKKO AND THE DRUM

Pokko’s parents give her a drum—biggest mistake ever—and she makes a thoroughgoing racket.

Her father suggests taking her drum outside. “But don’t make too much noise. We’re just a little frog family that lives in a mushroom, and we don’t like drawing attention to ourselves.” Pokko sets off quietly into the too-quiet forest. She taps her drum “just to keep herself company.” When a banjo-playing raccoon follows her, she plays louder. A trumpet-playing rabbit’s next, then a wolf, ostensibly there for the music. In a plot twist evocative of Jon Klassen, the wolf eats the rabbit, earning Pokko’s stern rebuke: “No more eating band members or you’re out of the band.” Soon, many animals—some making music, others enjoying it—are following Pokko. When her father calls her to dinner, he hears faint music, growing louder. The crowds sweep in, carrying off Pokko’s parents. (Comically, her mother’s still engrossed in the book she’s been reading throughout.) Her father thinks he spies Pokko down in front. “And you know what?…I think she’s pretty good!” Pokko’s a self-possessed marvel, brave enough to walk alone, face down a wolf, and lead a band. Forsythe’s smudgily glowing paintings alternate Rousseau-esque forest forms with cozy interiors; stripes and harlequin diamonds decorate clothing.

Celebrating both community and individuality, this droll, funny offering will tickle kids and adults alike. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8039-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Lit with sweetness.

SHARE SOME KINDNESS, BRING SOME LIGHT

Coco, who loves her gentle friend Bear, is shocked to learn that the other forest animals do not know about his kindness.

Inspired by one of her grandmother’s favorite maxims, Coco, a girl with light brown skin and curly brown hair, works with Bear to “share some kindness [and] bring some light” to the other animals in the forest. Interpreting it literally, the two make cookies (kindness) and lanterns (light) to share with the other animals. They trek through the snow-covered forest to deliver their gifts, but no one trusts Bear enough to accept them. As night begins to fall, Bear and Coco head home with the lanterns and cookies. On the way through the quiet forest, they hear a small voice pleading for help; it’s Baby Deer, stuck in the snow. They help free him, and Bear gives the young one a ride home on his back. When the other animals see both that Baby Deer is safe and that Bear is responsible for this, they begin to recognize all the wonderful things about Bear that they had not noticed before. The episode is weak on backstory—how did Coco and Bear become friends? Why don’t the animals know Bear better by now?—but Stott’s delicately inked and colored illustrations offer beguiling views of lightly anthropomorphized woodland critters that make it easy to move past these stumbling blocks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67% of actual size.)

Lit with sweetness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6238-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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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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