Readers will want to put these instructions to use right away.

HOW TO FIND A FOX

A determined child attempts to find an elusive fox and learns that perseverance is rewarded.

Magruder’s debut picture book addresses readers directly as “you,” the digital pictures showing a black child with big, curly hair in a purple shirt and yellow shorts and shoes and sporting a yellow backpack, camera at the ready (more than one reader will be reminded of Dora the Explorer). The book accompanies the child as the narrator relates the sometimes tongue-in-cheek directions on how to find a fox: “Find a fox hole. Any fox hole will do. The best foxes are at home when you visit.” But this fox isn’t the cooperative type. In fact, it’s pretty crafty. Even when the child deploys the “fox bait,” aka chicken leg, it waits until the child moves on before snatching it. As the child continues the search, readers will be beside themselves, yelling that “it’s right there!” but the child doesn’t spy it until after climbing a tree, and even then, it gets away before the descent is accomplished. The child is discouraged but perseveres, because “Some days, a fox doesn’t want to be found. Some days, he wants to find YOU!” Magruder’s protagonist displays an emotional range that matches the beats of the quest, from excitement and determination to anger, boredom, and dismay, and young children will feel them in tandem.

Readers will want to put these instructions to use right away. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-08656-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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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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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