A fresh and funny story of a good-natured soul who marches—with perseverance and gusto—to his own drummer.

SILLI'S SHEEP

Silli is a lovable fool who lives in an alpine meadow and solves his problems in the most unlikely ways.

The rosy-cheeked fellow is completely content to sleep next to his large sack of belongings, with “nothing but moonbeams for a bed”—until the wind blows. Then, “Silli felt…chilly.” The cartoon caricatures have a childlike feel; they portray a white, wispy-haired man with a long, oval face, a prominent, red nose, and a mobile expression. Having decided to search for sheep (so he can make yarn and knit a sweater), he spots five likely candidates on a neighboring mountain. Readers will immediately realize that they are rock formations, but there is much humor in Silli’s attempts to get them to follow him, including his imitation of a sheepdog. After carrying each one home, he breaks his shears trying to trim the “wool” and unsuccessfully tries to soften it with conditioner. He eventually—inadvertently—does create a wind barrier. As it starts to snow, and Silli drifts off dreaming of a cow so he can make hot chocolate, an actual sheep peers in at him. Stone’s narrative has the cadences and pacing of a classic tale, and she knows just where to leave room for Thomas to fill in his own comical touches. The result is a rollicking good time.

A fresh and funny story of a good-natured soul who marches—with perseverance and gusto—to his own drummer. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-4852-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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