A catchy, cautionary tale.

READ REVIEW

TOAD ON THE ROAD

A CAUTIONARY TALE

Little toads should never play in the road!

A little toad carelessly squats in the middle of the road hungrily watching a fly buzz by. “Who’s that coming down the road? / Oh yikes! Oh yikes! / It’s a… // Bear on a bike! / Everyone shout: / Look out! Look out! // SKID! SCREECH! BAM!” Bear and bike end up in a ditch, and the bear yells at the little toad. What would its mama say? Unsurprisingly, the little toad does not listen, and soon along comes a top-hatted croc in a car…and there’s another crash. Both animals admonish the amphibian to no avail. Along comes a vole in a van (in the picture, it looks an awful lot like Jerry Garcia driving a VW microbus), and it too goes “BAM!” When, finally, along comes mother toad in a tow truck, readers hear “Hey, little love, get out of the way! / You could get hurt. That’s no place to play.” A musician as well as a writer and illustrator, Shaskan pens a tale that begs to be sung, and it’s likely audiences will soon pick up the tune. The call-and-response construction of the tale will lend itself well to performing for preschoolers. The bright, heavily lined, digitally created illustrations resemble block prints and feature smiling (or shouting) big-eyed animals in full-bleed, double-page spreads.

A catchy, cautionary tale. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-239347-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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