A perfect choice to inspire new readers and writers.

ROCKET WRITES A STORY

From the Rocket series

For new reader Rocket, every new book is a treasure and an adventure, “like a place he'd never been to, like a friend he’d never met.”

The little yellow bird introduced in How Rocket Learned to Read (2010) continues to teach and encourage this special dog. Rocket sniffs out wonderful new words in his environment, and the bird helps him create a glorious word tree. Now Rocket searches for ideas for his own story in which he can use his word collection. A shy, friendly owl provides the inspiration he needs, and he sets to work on his opus. It’s not all smooth sailing; he writes, crosses out, and draws pictures, alternately wagging his tail and growling. Yellow bird helps with encouragement and questions, and Rocket keeps the owl informed about his work in progress. His finished story wins rave reviews from his teacher and his new owl friend. Hills maintains the same gentle tone he established in Rocket's first adventure. Yellow bird’s innovative and thoughtful teaching methods are perfectly in sync with Rocket’s thirst for learning. The plot moves along at a measured pace that stresses the step-by-step process of Rocket’s endeavors. Illustrations rendered in oil paints and colored pencil lovingly depict the characters and events.

A perfect choice to inspire new readers and writers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-87086-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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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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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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