Enchanting and intriguing.

READ REVIEW

IDA AND THE WHALE

A young girl journeys on the back of a flying whale in this picture book, first published in Switzerland and translated from German into English.

Ida, a redheaded white girl who lives in a treehouse in a peaceful birch forest, often wonders “what lay beyond.” One night, woken by the shaking of her treehouse, she peers out to see a flying whale. Gugger and Röthlisberger’s sumptuous illustrations, evocative of the work of Lisbeth Zwerger, are infused with the sort of whimsical detail that makes for the best fantasy ambiance. When the whale invites Ida to go on a journey with him “beyond the stars,” Ida accepts eagerly. They talk about “all kinds of things. BIG and little” and eventually come to a place where everything is upside down. Here, the whale nudges the puzzled Ida to think beyond what she thinks is “normal”; and later, Ida’s question about why a flower is sending its seeds to the sky prompts the whale to explain, “So it can grow again…all of us grow.” Themes of curious exploration, growth, and friendship are all introduced in this whimsical, delicate way, accompanied by evocative illustrations. The only off-note is an inconsistency in the illustrative depictions of the size relationship between Ida and the whale, and while it could possibly be excused by the fantasy nature of the story, it’s noticeable. The endpaper illustrations deftly underscore the enrichment that results from journeys.

Enchanting and intriguing. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4341-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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