Preschool talkers aren’t likely to take the lesson to heart, but their caregivers will certainly find this chuckleworthy.

WORDY BIRDY

To say that this bird is wordy is an understatement; the motor mouth talks so much that she doesn’t listen, even when it’s in her best interests.

The talking starts first thing in the morning, with Wordy Birdy saying hello to each color in the sky at sunrise and to her own reflection in the mirror, but it doesn’t stop there. The loquacious bird talks about things she likes, things she dislikes, things she’s curious about, what she sees, facts she knows, and sometimes stories she embellishes a bit (“This one time, I totally went swimming with a narwhal”). Her friends are all disgruntled expressions and raised eyebrows, but they are loyal nonetheless (readers may not see why, though, as the self-centered bird is not at all likable). When her ceaseless yammering lands Wordy Birdy in danger, they come to her rescue…and even bring about a modest change in her behavior. Friends Squirrel, Rabbit, and Raccoon are the real stars here. Their droll expressions and unsurprised reactions to Wordy Birdy’s indifference to their warnings are laugh-out-loud funny, especially to adults who may be reading this aloud and recognize some familiar behavior. Mottram’s seemingly digital illustrations have an Over the Hedge aesthetic, and the dialogue balloons that crowd the spreads emphasize just how much talking Wordy Birdy does.

Preschool talkers aren’t likely to take the lesson to heart, but their caregivers will certainly find this chuckleworthy. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1929-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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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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