THE STEVES

When two Steves meet, each needs to establish his superiority.

They argue about everything, including which one appeared first—“BY ONE PAGE,” the other protests. One is slightly older, so he should be Steve the First. One is wiser, one is taller, and there are claims of faster and stronger. They even challenge each other about their ability to catch fish, which would be odd if they were human, but these Steves are puffins. Then the tone of their competition changes, and the insults begin, making them feel bad. But they are essentially kindhearted, and they apologize and decide to be friends. They go bowling together—an outing that ends with a big surprise that might change everything. The puffins are akin to 6-year-olds; there is no real malice, but they vie for king of the playground. Hood employs simple, childlike syntax, including just enough grossness to ensure giggles from young readers. It’s a great read-aloud for two voices, as they each escalate in intensity and then come together in agreement. Sharply delineated lino-print–and-collage illustrations in dominant, intensely bright blue and yellow are filled with delightful images. The black-and-white puffins, one with an orange beak and one with red, display slight changes in the ways they hold their heads and mouths that indicate their emotions and perfectly match the dialogue. There’s a gentle, subliminal message about friendship and acceptance.

Enormous fun. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6914-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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