A charming depiction of friendship and love

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AALFRED AND AALBERT

A little blue bird helps two aardvarks find each other.

Aalfred and Aalbert are aardvarks. Nocturnal Aalfred “love[s] stars, broccoli, and picnics” while diurnal Aalbert “love[s] flowers, sunshine, and cheese.” Both solitary creatures are happy enough, but occasionally they each wish they had a companion. A perky, curious blue bird decides to play matchmaker, trying to get the two to meet, but each attempt—a nighttime alarm, a tangle of string connecting the two—fails to draw them together. Moved by the bird’s despair (though ignorant of its cause), Aalfred tries to help—and when he tumbles into Aalbert’s burrow by accident in his attempt, it’s happily-ever-after from then on. The simple, deadpan narrative shows flashes of laugh-out-loud moments, as when Aalbert solemnly muses, “Will I have enough cheese?” while in a room crammed full of wedges and wheels, or when the unnamed bird stoically marches around with a broccoli hat (toward signs indicating “BROKOLI” and “BEST BROLOCI”) in an attempt to bring the two together. Dramatic background colors, mostly blue and orange, help distinguish between the identically endearing pink aardvarks. In other hands, the sweetness of the plot could have tipped over into cloying, but the steadfast resignation of the only-occasionally-lonely aardvarks and the bird’s wordless but powerful expressiveness keep the story light, dry, and satisfying.

A charming depiction of friendship and love . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68263-121-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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