Time now to savor this lovely offering.

READ REVIEW

TIME NOW TO DREAM

Just the right combination of fairy tale and bedtime book, scary and soothing.

While playing outside, Alice and Jack hear something in the woods, and despite Jack’s hesitation, the two children (who seem to be siblings) go to investigate. Both children are white with blond hair and ruddy complexions. Older Alice is brave and curious, guiding her little brother deeper into the forest as they continue to hear bits of strange verse like: “Offtis or eeef edd/un gentil daa breez.” Timid Jack wonders, “But what if it’s the Wicked Wolf…with his big bad claws?” Alice repeatedly assures him that “everything is going to be all right,” but she is the one who falters when they do see a wolf in the forest. Before they run away, Jack looks closer and sees that it’s a mother wolf singing to her babies, and now they can make out the lullaby she croons and that led them into the woods. The children return home with the mother wolf’s song in their ears, and they heed its advice that it’s “time now to dream.” Oxenbury’s pencil-and-watercolor illustrations underscore the text’s timeless feel and add whimsy with just the right touch of eeriness. Her ever-so-slightly anthropomorphized wolves and sun-dappled forest are as inviting as anything she’s done.

Time now to savor this lovely offering. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9078-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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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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