Funny, respectful, and cathartic—exhilarating.

BARBARA THROWS A WOBBLER

Can a scream become a creature in its own right?

Barbara’s a cat who stands upright in yellow boots and a red dress. Today she has a deep frown and a very bad mood. “It had started in the morning because of a sock problem. And at lunchtime there had been a strange pea.” The sock problem: one sock halfway onto one hind paw, another on her tail, one each held by a front paw—all different colors. The strange pea is olive colored and off-puttingly larger than her regular green peas. Ice cream falling from her cone onto the ground is the last straw, and “Barbara thr[ows] a GREAT BIG… / WOBBLER!” Few United States readers will know this British slang for tantrum—which Shireen paints like a close-up single scream—and the unfamiliar word brings extra gloriousness to the Wobbler’s manifestation as a great, red, googly-eyed creature, “gloopy and heavy, like an angry jelly.” For a while, the Wobbler keeps Barbara unhappy, forbidding offers of sympathetic chats, cuddles, and replacement ice cream from pals Otto, Martha, and Small Bob. But then—“Stinky bumhead!” Barbara and the Wobbler call each other, transitioning into giggles before the Wobbler disappears with a pop. The art is brightly colored and, though at first appearing simple, brings a clever, complex depth of emotion and expression, from fury and powerlessness to humor, gentleness, and relief. A picture glossary of bad moods closes the book with humor and empathy.

Funny, respectful, and cathartic—exhilarating. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68464-225-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.”

NOODLE AND THE NO BONES DAY

Graziano tells the story of his TikTok-famous pug, Noodle.

Noodle is a silly, stubborn old pug who likes walks and snacks. “He’s a pug who knows what he wants.” Jonathan, his light-skinned owner, loves taking Noodle for walks and sharing snacks—they are a perfect pair. But one day, when it’s time for a walk, Noodle just lies in his dog bed. Even when Jonathan tries to make Noodle sit up, Noodle flops back down. “It’s like he doesn’t have bones!” says Jonathan. Noodle doesn’t seem sick—he just wants snacks and to stay in bed. Finally, Jonathan asks if Noodle would just like to snuggle instead and receives a strong affirmative from the drowsy pug. Together Noodle and his human enjoy a relaxing “no bones day” and learn an important lesson about rest and why it matters for silly, stubborn old pugs and for the humans who love them, too. Many may already be familiar with Noodle through his TikTok videos (if Noodle remains standing when Graziano lifts him, it’s a “bones day”; among Noodle’s followers, a “no bones day” has come to mean a day for self-care and taking it easy). However, this story stands alone and will likely create new fans for a long time to come. Hand-drawn and painted digitally, Tavis’ illustrations rely on a muted palette and rounded images, depicting an appropriately cozy world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.” (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66592-710-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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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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