Another successful outing in a winning series, with lots of room for more adventures for Ben and his new friends Erv and Max.

READ REVIEW

BEN AND THE SCAREDY-DOG

A young boy named Ben makes a new friend and conquers his fear of dogs in this latest offering in a series about learning to deal with new experiences.

In the previous entry in the series, Ben Says Goodbye (2016), the boy had to deal with the loss of his best friend, Peter, when Peter’s family moved away. In this story, Ben watches as a new family moves into the same house, bringing their huge dog with them. Ben and his family are white, and their new neighbors are Asian, with a daughter about Ben’s age named Erv (short for Minerva). When Ben visits Erv at her house, he must face his considerable fear of dogs, including specific worries about canines chasing and biting him “with their strong jaws and big, sharp teeth.” For his part, the friendly dog, Max, is afraid of the slippery, shiny floors in the new house and won’t leave his rug to walk across the floor. Boy and dog conquer their respective fears, with a final, wordless page showing Ben leading Max by his leash as they follow Erv out to play. Ben’s fear of dogs is sensitively portrayed in a text that skillfully interweaves exposition, questions, and dialogue, with Ben’s internal musings set in italics. Amusing illustrations in watercolor and ink make effective use of heavy outlines and copious white space for a clean, contemporary look.

Another successful outing in a winning series, with lots of room for more adventures for Ben and his new friends Erv and Max. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77278-044-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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