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READ REVIEW

JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE MINE

The newest entry into the glutted daddy/mommy-loves-his/her-little-one market is as sweet as all the rest but fails to distinguish itself.

Little Red Squirrel and his dad are out "playing in the big wood." Daddy calls to his child, "Did I tell you today that I love you?" "Because why?" responds Little Red Squirrel, then proceeds to engage in all sorts of cute, squirrel-ish behavior to answer his question. Does daddy love him because he's fast? Because he's good at finding berries? Because he's "strong and can do such High Climbing?" Because he's so "ABSOLUTELY brave?" And on and on. It's all undeniably adorable, but just about everything about this book, from the dialogue-driven interaction, naming convention and dad-gets-the-last-word bedtime snuggle, smacks of Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram's now-classic Guess How Much I Love You? Endersby's illustrations feel just as derivative as Lloyd-Jones' text. Varying full-bleed, double-page spreads with vignettes, he creates a setting nearly identical in palette and feel to the Nutbrown Hares' evening romp. The gently anthropomorphized faces and body language recall the earlier parent-child duo as well. Heck, even the typeface does. For a fresh treatment of this ever-popular theme, opt for What's Special About Me, Mama? by Kristina Evans and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe (2011), or take a look at the new pop-up version of Guess How Much I Love You? (2011).

Skip this clone. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-201476-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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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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