Despite quibbles, it’s a charmer

READ REVIEW

COUNTING WITH BAREFOOT CRITTERS

Barefoot but otherwise clothed critters have a full day, collecting friends along the way.

A gray fox girl enjoys a bit of time by herself. “A quiet day reading is perfect for one. / Books take you everywhere under the sun. / But when the story is over you might start to feel blue / And realize your day would be better with… // Two!” Two friends are perfect for making pancakes, but after a yummy breakfast, playing outside is more fun with three than two. Four is a great number of buddies for getting chores done swiftly, and so on. One critter of a different species (including a triceratops) is added to the ever more diverse troupe of friends for each new task or event…until they head home with 12: “As the forest grows dark we head home for the night, / Led by our friend with good evening eyesight. / The stories are spooky and darkness is near / But with us twelve together, there’s nothing to fear.” And the gray fox beds down alone, one again. White’s follow-up to Adventures with Barefoot Critters (2014) is a charming cumulative counting tale, though the verse occasionally strains for rhyme and scansion. Both boys and girls are represented (distinguished by such stereotypical visual clues as attire and presence or absence of eyelashes) in the pastel-hued watercolor illustrations.

Despite quibbles, it’s a charmer . (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-10191-771-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original...

A KISSING HAND FOR CHESTER RACCOON

From the Kissing Hand series

A sweetened, condensed version of the best-selling picture book, The Kissing Hand.

As in the original, Chester Raccoon is nervous about attending Owl’s night school (raccoons are nocturnal). His mom kisses him on the paw and reminds him, “With a Kissing Hand… / We’ll never be apart.” The text boils the story down to its key elements, causing this version to feel rushed. Gone is the list of fun things Chester will get to do at school. Fans of the original may be disappointed that this board edition uses a different illustrator. Gibson’s work is equally sentimental, but her renderings are stiff and flat in comparison to the watercolors of Harper and Leak. Very young readers will probably not understand that Owl’s tree, filled with opossums, a squirrel, a chipmunk and others, is supposed to be a school.

Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original shouldn’t look to this version as replacement for their page-worn copies. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-933718-77-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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