There’s a lot to be said for taking a few moments to look around.

A FRIEND FOR BEAR

So giddy with pent-up energy is newly awake little Bear that she can’t stop running to take in the joys of spring.

Like a world-class sugar rush, Bear’s need for speed sends her bursting out of the den with such exuberance that she stops only to scoop up a tortoise she trips over—and proceeds to ignore his suggestions to smell the flowers or play with a pair of fox cubs, his objection to climbing a tree, and, when it comes to jumping into the river, the fact that he can’t swim. Wet and tired, Tortoise at last puts his foot down and counters Bear’s protest that there’s so much left to do with the observation that it’s bedtime. The response is predictable: “NOOOOOOOOOO!” Pedler propels her tubby cub, Tortoise clinging gamely on, through sunny woods and meadows alight with fresh greens, bright flowers, and capering wildlife. She then, following Tortoise’s reassurance that tomorrow will bring new opportunities to run, make friends, and maybe sit for a time, sends the pair back at a more sedate pace suitable for appreciating nature’s beauties. Younger audiences with a yen to put pedal to the metal will get the point here, even if they shrug it off.

There’s a lot to be said for taking a few moments to look around. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-188-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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