From young preschoolers afraid of thunderstorms to school-aged children learning to deal with worrying aspects of the larger...

SAFE IN A STORM

A soothing story follows adult animals as they protect their young and offer words of comfort during stormy times.

The story opens and closes with an adult collie and puppy, at first watching a storm roll in. The final pages show the same pair safe inside their farmhouse, with the reassuring words, “A storm will always end.” Each double-page spread features an adult with one or two babies, ranging from moles to whales to giraffes. The animals are all cuddly-cute and nonthreatening, even the wolves and the bobcats, and the swirling storms are evocative without being too scary. Each spread has a rhyming couplet in the adult’s voice addressing the stormy weather, along with some reassuring advice about staying safe next to the grown-up. The text doesn’t specify whether the adult animals are mothers or fathers, and though the larger animals seem parental, the story is dedicated “to teachers and school staff everywhere, who provide a safe harbor for children every day” and to the memory of the Sandy Hook Elementary victims. The story could be effectively used after any sort of disaster, with its supportive words about an adult’s calm shelter keeping little ones safe.

From young preschoolers afraid of thunderstorms to school-aged children learning to deal with worrying aspects of the larger world, this encouraging story offers a hopeful view of the protective power of caring adults. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-86792-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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Hee haw.

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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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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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