A sweet, simple friendship story buoyed by sophisticated art.

READ REVIEW

A PERFECT DAY

A sea gull finds a flock in an unlikely crustacean.

While basking in the sun on a rock in the middle of the ocean, a sea gull remarks, “Blue sky, gentle breeze! Warm sun, cool feet! It’s a perfect day.” That is, until a nitpicky crab crawls onto the rock and negates the sea gull’s optimism. According to the crab, the day is not perfect, as the sky has a cloud in it (yes, just one). The sea gull counters that the cloud is “pretty.” But the crab persists with the negativity, next noting the “smelly old boat” in the distance and the barnacles on the slippery rock. “Fine!” the sea gull says, and flies off “to find a better rock”—one without crabs. But when both the old and the new rock—in reality, two whales’ heads—rise up out of the ocean, the sea gull’s “perfect day” completely sinks. Or does it? Brannen’s spare dialogue, accompanied by three gorgeous and completely wordless double-page spreads, makes for lovely opportunities to talk with young readers about the story. The rich watercolor art employs multiple techniques to create textural contrast. The animal figures are simply drawn and outlined with thick, black lines, but their expressive gestures and faces bring them to life. That the sea gull would choose to befriend rather than just eat the annoying crab adds a layer to the story—and indeed the sea gull’s bright-eyed personality.

A sweet, simple friendship story buoyed by sophisticated art. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984-81284-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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