This intergenerational tale gently introduces woodland animal tracks and Ojibwemowin words.

RAVEN, RABBIT, DEER

On a snowy winter’s day, a young Ojibwe boy takes Grandpa’s hand and leads him out of the busy town and into the woods.

The boy shows Grandpa how to shake down clumps of snow from tree branches and kick snow in the creek where water bubbles through ice breaks. They trudge up a hill and make patterns with their footprints in the deep snow. Venturing deep into the forest, Grandpa points out different kinds of footprints. The boy tries to guess what made prints that look like “two hotdogs with two marshmallows in the middle.” The tracks are made by a rabbit, and Grandpa teaches his grandson the Ojibwemowin word for the animal: “Waabooz,” he says. Together they find a sparrow’s “teeny tiny tracks that look like twigs” and the larger prints of the raven, “Gaagaagi.” They count bigger animals hiding in the forest with tracks that “look like ‘I love you’ hearts cut in two”; “Deer,” says Grandpa. “Waawaashkeshi.” Faria (Chippewas of Rama First Nation) brings an #ownvoices perspective to Holler’s text, illustrating the gentle scenes in acrylics and colored pencil. Understated humor emerges in the details: The narrator holds up a mittened hand to show how many deer he sees, and Grandpa correctly agrees that there are “five”; later, Grandpa carries his tired grandson into the house “like a pile of firewood.” Phonetic pronunciations of the Ojibwemowin words appear on the endpapers.

This intergenerational tale gently introduces woodland animal tracks and Ojibwemowin words. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77278-136-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

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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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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