Readers of this high-energy story who count sheep are in for plenty of giggles.

A FLOCK OF FUN

A child becomes frustrated by rambunctious sheep—but misses them when they vanish—in this picture book.

A pale-skinned, short-haired youngster in footie pajamas just can’t sleep with the moon shining so brightly in the bedroom. “To try to sleep / I counted sheep / But they’re a noisy flock of bleat,” the kid complains. And the sheep certainly do cause a lot of trouble, playing games, upsetting the lamp, and diving into the laundry. Eventually, they all nod off, and the child wonders if maybe counting snails would make for a better night’s sleep. The next evening, the snails arrive, and although they paint glistening trails across the bedroom, fantastically depicted in vibrant green in Barrow’s illustrations, they also snore, keeping the child awake. The youngster ends up wishing for the boisterous sheep instead. Readers familiar with Howell’s humorous rhymes and unique worldview from such titles as Glimmer! (2019) are sure to be pleased with this clever tale. The repetition of the rhyming syllables makes this story a perfect read-aloud, especially for lap readers who want to chime in on the rhymes. Barrow’s digital paintings, similar in style to another of his counting misadventures, Down on the Ranch (2019), maximize the nighttime chaos and perfectly capture the child’s growing exasperation.

Readers of this high-energy story who count sheep are in for plenty of giggles.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73371-708-3

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Doodle and Peck Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

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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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