BEAR WITH ME

Owen’s world is perfect until his parents decide to add a bear to their family. “It started off just right. I had mom and a dad and my own set of blocks. I had everything I needed.”  His parents bring home a huge, brown bear named Gary who invades Owen’s perfect life and territory. Gary takes up Owen’s parents’ time, plays with his toys, ruins his markers and swing and keeps him up all night with his overwhelming snoring. It takes a while for Owen to adjust to this enormous change, but like children everywhere with a new sibling or other addition to the family, he learns to appreciate and even love the interloper. The droll illustrations, in which Owen and Gary appear to have been cut out and glued into a suburban subdivision, put the new brothers at the center of the action. Despite the cartoon style, emotions are clear. Owen’s eyes, near tears, zero in on Gary’s fearful expression at their first meeting; the two smile at each other while sharing blocks. Gentle, wordless pages explore their developing friendship and invite readers to provide the narration. The only misstep is the use of colored text rather than quotation marks to show speech, which could be an unnecessary impediment for new readers. Nevertheless, a sweet and refreshing spin on the old new-sibling plot. (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25257-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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