No owls here, but this one is definitely a hoot.

THE FARM THAT MAC BUILT

This Animal Theater production, way off-Broadway, has some unexpected guest appearances.

Beet microphone in hand, the scarecrow from Old MacDonald’s farm narrates this stage production of a “mostly true story.” The MC begins: “This is the farm that Mac built. / These are the … // …pigs (Oink!) that live on the farm / that Mac built.” The suit-clad pigs are followed by cows in tasteful frocks. Pig-and-cow pairs dance around the barn stage. Next come the…monkeys?! The scarecrow shoos them off the stage, and the sheep “(Baa!)” enter in tutus, with one performing a graceful grand jeté. Much better…but they are followed by…breakdancing kangaroos?! The scarecrow apologizes, and a one-horse band joins the production “(Neigh!).” Next, of course are—Wagnerian elephants? Sheesh. Eggs arrive, and that’s all well and good…but these hatch into penguins. After a short moment, the scarecrow assembles everyone (who belongs) for a curtain call of animal sounds that includes one more giggle-inducing oopsie. Sauer’s cumulative mashup of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and “The House That Jack Built” will delight audiences familiar with both. Urbanovic’s cartoon illustrations of (mostly) clothed animal performers elevate this nightmare production into a hilarious comedy of errors. There are plenty of details in the illustrations to prompt new laughs in subsequent reads.

No owls here, but this one is definitely a hoot. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-11302-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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