A quiet interlude of innocence.

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THE LITTLE WOLVES

Little wolf cubs venture into the forest while their mother is away.

First published in German in Switzerland and now translated into English, this innocent story follows the classic home-away-home formula. Four small wolf cubs venture outside of their cave one night while their mother is away hunting. (This atypical family unit—wolf packs are usually father, mother, older siblings, and youngest littermates—is not explained.) The cubs are entranced by the forest smells and sounds and venture further, traveling throughout the following day and into the next night. Small activities occur: They see their reflections in a pond, startling them, hear an owl, which enchants them, and, in an odd segue, run away from a sleeping hunter. The magic of the story, though, is not in its modest action but in Herrmann’s lovely lyrical language, which ambles along generously (this is not a concise narrative), and, most especially, in Wilkoń’s viscerally empathetic illustrations. His use of warm, rich colors and amorphous shapes brings a sense of life and atmosphere to the whole even as they evoke in the renderings of the cubs a childlike wonder and innocence. While the book’s design is uneventful—text on white paper on verso, full-page illustrations on recto—and the ending lacks pizazz, there is an overall endearingly soothing and comfortable quality to this tale.

A quiet interlude of innocence. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4397-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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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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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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