Adorable squirrels give readers a peek at how teachers spend their time getting ready for their students.

READ REVIEW

THE SECRET LIFE OF SQUIRRELS

BACK TO SCHOOL!

The latest in Rose’s series snaps her backyard squirrels (and one chipmunk) against school backdrops.

The animals will be the big draw for readers: Who could resist two squirrels shopping for school supplies while pushing a tiny grocery cart? Or the pair at the picnic table nibbling peanuts in front of the swings and slide on the playground? (The author’s note will be of particular interest to readers who are curious how Rose captured these photos.) The story that goes with the pics tells of Rosie, a teacher, and her friend Mr. Peanuts as they spend the day before school starts getting ready for the year. They unpack the classroom library, set up the art corner, and decorate the classroom with a banner and the rules. Mr. Peanuts helps Mr. Chipper, the gym teacher, with his equipment and then practices driving his bus route. Rosie tidies the garden and visits with a fellow teacher. Told from a third-person point of view with dialogue from the characters, the story is no great shakes (though it does accurately reflect how teachers get ready for school), but the pics are really the point, and readers will both pore over them and attempt their own scene setting and camerawork.

Adorable squirrels give readers a peek at how teachers spend their time getting ready for their students. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-50621-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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