THE FOREVER FLOWER

Graceful writing and rich, mixed-media illustrations deliver a poignant story of longing, belonging and recognizing the gifts of the present.

A young rose-cheeked grouse is reluctant to migrate to warmer climates for the winter. Despite others’ warnings that she should come with them, she delays and fashions a bag in which to store seeds and her favorite red Forever Flower blossoms. Alas, the bag weighs her down, and she falls into icy waters. Luckily a spaniel playing fetch swims by, and she clings to it and is saved. The spaniel belongs to a young woman, and the grouse ends up in their home, where the woman plants the Forever Flower seeds. When seedlings sprout, they give the grouse hope that her grouse friends will return, and she longs for them and the coming springtime. At the story’s heart is the message that although we might wish for things to come or long for things that have passed, there are delights to be found in the present—like parties attended by snowmen, a picnic on an unseasonably warm day or the snuggly warmth of a dog. When the other grouse do return, along with the first Forever Flowers of the season, the young grouse is torn—should she remain with her new friends or leave with those who’ve returned?

A lyrical, lovely tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-56846-273-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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