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THE RAVEN AND THE LOON

Folklore invitingly told and presented for a young audience.

Irrepressible trickster Raven gets his comeuppance when he annoys his friend Loon in a humorous tale based on Inuit folklore.

Both Raven and Loon were once unremarkably cloaked in plain white feathers—“stuck without colour,” according to the tale. Severely bored by the plainness of his plumage, Raven approaches the more staid Loon and suggests that they help each other improve their looks. Raven is clever and artistic, and he does a lovely job with Loon’s feathers. But following his success, Raven becomes so twitchy, chatty and annoying that he provokes Loon, who prides herself on her craft, to irritation. The unfortunate result involves a stone lamp full of soot and has consequences for the pair that can be seen to this day. The exchange is very funny—the Qitsualik-Tinsleys ably distill the essence of Raven’s impulsive and incorrigible verbosity. The rhythms of the story hint at the voice of the storytellers and also translate well to the printed page—easy to read, compact and punchy. Smith’s cover and title pages are striking—spiky feathers for Raven and smoother ones for Loon, along with deep blues that hint at a kind of arctic chill. The interior illustrations are lively and animated, and if a bit more ordinary, they offer a clear visual story for listeners.

Folklore invitingly told and presented for a young audience. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-92709-550-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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