A wintry friendship story that cleverly conceals a how-to for conquering one’s fears and getting back up after snowy falls

TEACH YOUR GIRAFFE TO SKI

What do you do when your giraffe wants to ski?

As snow falls outside, the young protagonist sits uneasily inside a cozy chalet with a giraffe that has just decided to learn to ski. Though the child tries to convince the giraffe that making hot chocolate or snow giraffes would be preferable, the giraffe remains focused and heads straight for the slopes, our protagonist in hot pursuit with equipment in tow. Told in second person, this tongue-in-cheek, teach-your-giraffe-to-ski instruction manual offers a solid introduction to the basics of the sport, for humans too—ski positions, slope etiquette, etc. When at last the giraffe bombs down the largest mountain, what else must a good friend do but go after her? The giraffe’s fearlessness may resonate with some young enthusiasts eager to hit the slopes, while the child’s trepidation about conquering the “Big Scary Slope” will be familiar to many first-time skiers. In true picture-book fashion, the delightful, bright, cartoon-style illustrations expand upon exuberant text that takes turns instructing and cautioning this bold, headstrong mammal and her slightly more cautious owner through attempts, falls, and reassuring hugs. It’s never easy to learn something new; sometimes it helps to have a giraffe learn with you. The child has tan skin and straight, black hair.

A wintry friendship story that cleverly conceals a how-to for conquering one’s fears and getting back up after snowy falls . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7767-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Hee haw.

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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