THE CAMPING TRIP

From the Adventures of Pettson and Findus series

This stand-alone title in a series is sure to win hearts and minds, even as its characters come near to losing the latter.

Perils and perturbations await two friends hoping for a peaceful camping experience in the mountains.

When Pettson, a bearded, white human, and his beanie-wearing cat, Findus, discover an old, rolled-up tent in the attic, they are inspired to take a hike in the mountains. Unfortunately their trip is cut short by 10 of Pettson’s overly enthusiastic hens, who want to tag along. They decide just to pitch the tent in the yard. After that nothing is predictable. Fishing in the nearby lake reveals a massive pike, Findus coerces Pettson into sleeping in the tent with him, and after that, Pettson tells a whopper of a tall tale to his neighbor about why they’re camping at all. The story was originally published in Swedish in 1992 and in the United States in 1993 as Festus and Mercury Go Camping, and it’s little wonder that Pettson (a parental stand-in) and Findus (a child) have a cult following. There’s more text to each scene than most modern picture books, but Nordqvist’s writing keeps everything moving at a smart clip. Tiny details and creatures are often hidden in the backgrounds of the book’s scenes, and most (like the mailbox in Pettson’s bedroom that’s stuffed full of dirty socks) are charming. One exception might be a teepee with a feathered headdress–wearing rodent family peeking at our heroes’ foibles.

This stand-alone title in a series is sure to win hearts and minds, even as its characters come near to losing the latter. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4277-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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