The subtle theme of the transformative power hidden within heartfelt gifts is elegantly conveyed in this amusing holiday...



The Mellops family of pigs prepares for Christmas in this delightfully droll fable about the importance of giving to others at Christmastime.

On Christmas Eve, the four Mellops brothers, Casimir, Isidor, Felix and Ferdinand, each try to surprise their father with a small, decorated Christmas tree. Their wise parent sends them out into the snowy night to give the trees away to those less fortunate. After trying several places that already have perfectly fine trees, the porcine brothers discover a houseful of lonely, needy pigs who happily accept the trees and other gifts of food and clothing provided by the kind Mellops brothers. The piglets return home to celebrate Christmas Eve with their parents, enjoying their own presents, tree and dinner, but the satisfaction of their genuine charity sets the tone for their happy holiday. The understated story, first published in England 50 years ago, has a French flavor in the quietly humorous text and minimalist illustrations in a sophisticated palette of peach and spring green. Ungerer, winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Prize, exhibits a masterful sense of pacing in his work, with plentiful space surrounding his witty piglets and a spare text conveying a complete, satisfying plot.

The subtle theme of the transformative power hidden within heartfelt gifts is elegantly conveyed in this amusing holiday offering. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7148-6250-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

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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.


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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