Luckily for Ellie and readers alike, it is the pictures that matter.

READ REVIEW

ELLIE

From the Ellie series

When Walt the zookeeper announces the zoo will be closing for good, all the animals pitch in to save it. But shy Ellie the elephant cannot see how she can help. How can she help save the zoo?

Gerard the gorilla is clever and always has good ideas. Lucy the giraffe can clean up all the places no one else can reach. Even the penguins and monkeys are sprucing up the gray and ramshackle zoo. Everyone but Ellie has a job to do. With big, round eyes, sweet Ellie is clearly sad that she cannot help save her home. With a “brighten the corner where you are” attitude, Ellie picks up a paintbrush and gives it a try. Like Dorothy arriving in Oz, the world changes when the paint hits the walls. In his first picture book, Pixar animator Wu creates watercolor illustrations that are reminiscent of classics like Harry the Dirty Dog and Curious George. Round Gerard, tall Lucy, and impossibly thin Walt are distinct personalities beyond their physical attributes. There is a timelessness that draws attention to these gentle figures. The storyline, however, meanders like the little elephant as the book proceeds. Is the kernel of this book about contributing even if you are little? Or saving the zoo and becoming famous?

Luckily for Ellie and readers alike, it is the pictures that matter. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4847-1239-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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