Modernized only minimally (texting!), the book’s appeal lies in these calmingly recognizable characters participating in...

BABAR'S CELESTEVILLE GAMES

From a franchise as sturdy as an elephant’s memory comes explicit international goodwill.

Celesteville is hosting the Worldwide Games, and animals arrive “from all over” to compete. Babar’s children, “now grown up,” watch the athletes in warm-ups, practices and matches. Pom and Isabelle enjoy the swimming and diving: Elephants, hippos and a big cat (lioness perhaps?) power gracefully though a pool in neat lanes; next, an elephant dives off a springboard, the illustration showing five sequential positions in the somersault. Flora and Alexander prefer track and field and gymnastics (“Who would have thought that hippos were almost as good at the high bar as elephants?”). Watching, Flora falls in love with pole-vaulter Coriander, an athlete from a foreign land. Here the story segues into a gentle cultural acceptance lesson: Flora’s mother Celeste must adjust to Cory’s “small ears,” a trait of his Mirzi nationality, and Cory’s parents must accept that he didn’t choose “a girl from Mirza.” Flora roots for Mirza in the sporting events, which concerns Celeste until Babar reassures her, “I think it is love. And I think it will be good for all of us.” The wedding takes places in Celesteville but with Mirzi clothing and customs, an agreement that pleases everyone.

Modernized only minimally (texting!), the book’s appeal lies in these calmingly recognizable characters participating in Olympic sports and a mixed marriage. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0006-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history.

WOODLAND DREAMS

A sonorous, soporific invitation to join woodland creatures in bedding down for the night.

As in her Moon Babies, illustrated by Amy Hevron (2019), Jameson displays a rare gift for harmonious language and rhyme. She leads off with a bear: “Come home, Big Paws. / Berry picker / Honey trickster / Shadows deepen in the glen. / Lumber back inside your den.” Continuing in the same pattern, she urges a moose (“Velvet Nose”), a deer (“Tiny Hooves”), and a succession of ever smaller creatures to find their nooks and nests as twilight deepens in Boutavant’s woodsy, autumnal scenes and snow begins to drift down. Through each of those scenes quietly walks an alert White child (accompanied by an unusually self-controlled pooch), peering through branches or over rocks at the animals in the foregrounds and sketching them in a notebook. The observer’s turn comes round at last, as a bearded parent beckons: “This way, Small Boots. / Brave trailblazer / Bright stargazer / Cabin’s toasty. Blanket’s soft. / Snuggle deep in sleeping loft.” The animals go unnamed, leaving it to younger listeners to identify each one from the pictures…if they can do so before the verses’ murmurous tempo closes their eyes.

Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7063-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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