The moral of the story: Don’t anger vowels, or horses will go “ngh.” (Picture book. 4-8)

READ REVIEW

CAN U SAVE THE DAY?

The vowels raise havoc when they quit the farm after being insulted by the consonants.

There are five vowels (well, sometimes six or seven) while there are 21 consonants (well, sometimes 19 or 20). B seems to think that makes consonants better and more important. “The letter B stuck out his tongue / and bragged, ‘Our group is #1!’ ” A is offended and leaves, warning “You’ll regret / when all the vowels are gone, I bet.” When A disappears, the dog goes “brk,” the duck goes “quck,” and the frog goes “crok.” E leaves, too, and the sheep go “blt.” After I and O depart, the rooster goes “cck-ddl-d.” Fortunately, U takes pity on the consonants when a sleeping tractor goes out of control and all it can do is “hnk.” Clasping its hands over its head, U makes an O, causing the tractor to “honk” to wake up. The letters make peace and decide they are all one big family. This is a merry outing, with simple artwork that illustrates how funny words look when they drop a few letters. Fun can also be had for younger readers trying to figure out which letters are missing from a pig’s “onk” and a bird’s “twt”; classroom extension possibilities seem nearly endless. Stocker’s wordplay is the icing on the cake.

The moral of the story: Don’t anger vowels, or horses will go “ngh.” (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-404-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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THE SNOWY NAP

A hedgehog tries to stay awake for winter.

It’s almost time to hibernate, and Hedgie means to. But as he sniffs the chilly wind, farmyard animals taunt him about what he’ll miss. The hens’ coop will be “bedazzled by icicles”; the geese will joyfully “slip and slide across the pond ice”; the pony will pull a sleigh; snowflakes will fall, no two alike. The animals heckling Hedgie—hens, geese, sheep, pigs, a billy goat, a pony—are drawn with fine lines, hatchings, and textures. Because their faces are mostly realistic with only faint hints of anthropomorphism, their needling is subtle; some readers may hear their points as merely informative. Either way, Hedgie’s seized by FOMO: He decides to stay awake. When he accidentally nods off, farm girl Lisa brings him indoors and places him in a tea cozy on a windowsill. Nature will eventually run its course, but not before Hedgie finally glimpses “flowers of frost decorating his window,” the chicken coop “sparkl[ing] like a palace,” and Lisa pond-sliding with the geese. Brett’s watercolor-and-gouache illustrations feature both soft and bright colors, with fine lines and copious textures to peruse; the borders are characteristically fussy (braided yarn, pinking-shears edging, oval insets) but not distractingly so. Between the opulent farmhouse with decorative plates on the walls, the sleigh with sleigh bells, and the lack of adults, combined with a comfortably heated interior, this is a winter idyll. Lisa presents white.

Amiable. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-17073-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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