MY BIBI ALWAYS REMEMBERS

The vast savanna is parched and dry, and grandmother Bibi is the only elephant who remembers the way to desperately needed water.

Mischievous little Tembo follows Bibi and her mama, aunties and sisters as they go “[s]earching for wet.” Along the way, she is often distracted, stopping to chew the leaves of a jackalberry tree, chasing some storks or taking a nap in a lovely cool spot. Each time, she finds herself alone, separated from the herd. She squeals and then listens until a family member locates her and escorts her back to the herd. Finally Bibi locates the remembered spot, where they all dig down through the dry riverbed until they reach the precious water. Tembo is childlike and appealing, but all her actions are also consistent with elephant behavior as explained in an author’s note describing the dynamics of elephant family groups. The elephants’ thoughts are shown in italics, indicating that they are not voiced, while Bibi’s call is expressed as a “rummmmble.” Several phrases are repeated multiple times, creating a sense of continuity and rhythm along with reassurance that all will be well. Wohnoutka’s lovely illustrations, in tans, purples and grays, convey the vastness of the setting, along with accurate depictions of the elephants and the other watchful animals. A gentle, loving picture of interaction among generations. (Picture book. 3-7)

 

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8385-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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