A sweet tale of giving and giving back.

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WILLA AND THE BEAR

On a ride to Grandma Bibbie’s birthday celebration, young Willa’s beloved rag doll, Rosie, is lost in the dark woods then comes back in an unexpected way.

After the horse-drawn sleigh hits a bump and Rosie flies out into the snow, Willa and her parents stop to search—but the sun is going down, and they must get on. After they leave, a bear finds the doll, puts it on his back and pads along behind. When Willa arrives at her grandparents’ cabin she is presented with a small sewn bear that matches Grandpa’s new trousers. Catching sight of the real bear through the window she cries a warning, but when Papa cracks the door to peer out he finds only Rosie on the doorstep. Later, on the way home, Willa leaves the toy bear in the snow in exchange. “My friend will love you,” she whispers…and indeed, the last scene is a view of the live bear, curled in his den, clutching the cloth one. Unlikely as the episode may be, it has a cozy feel that O’Neill’s paintings, which strongly resemble Garth Williams’ Little House illustrations in settings and homespun style, amplify. The human figures are all white, ruddy of cheek, and dressed in country clothing; the snuffling bear is depicted with comfortably shaggy and rotund naturalism.

A sweet tale of giving and giving back. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2573-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long.

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THE SERIOUS GOOSE

Bet you can’t make this goose smile, no matter how hard you try.

TV personality Kimmel’s first foray into picture books presents a feathered grump with a scowl that is proof against any kind of foolery: Try putting a chicken on her head, dressing her as a moose, or even trucking in a snail pizza—this goose won’t crack. Breaking now and again into verse, he challenges readers to give it a try in a foil mirror: “Cluck like a chicken / moo like a cow / be doofy, be goofy / any way you know how”—and sure enough, eventually a grin bursts out to replace the grimace despite a multipage struggle to hold it in, and off prances the goose in a pair of (gender-bending) tighty whities. Yes, she’s become “a SILLY goose (thanks to you),” the narrator proclaims, and what’s more, “YOU are a silly kid.” A hand-lettered narrative in block printing big enough to take up most of the space accompanies thick-lined cartoon views of a goosey glare that dares readers to crank up the volume, and the last page turn reveals a final tweak that may add a few grown-up voices to the younger chorus of giggles.

The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-70775-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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