Oddly incongruent to the Kissing Hand (1993) premise—fans of the original will likely be perplexed, though it does present a...

CHESTER RACCOON AND THE ALMOST PERFECT SLEEPOVER

From the Kissing Hand series

Chester Raccoon faces a new childhood anxiety in the latest addition to the Kissing Hand series.

A sleepover at Pepper Opossum’s tree has Chester Raccoon excited. But it is not called an “overnight,” because these animals are nocturnal. Instead, Chester is going on an “overday.” (Sometimes wordplay can be more confusing than clever.) When Chester and his mother reach the Opossums’ tree, she places the requisite kiss in the palm of his hand, curls his fingers around it, and leaves him feeling safe and loved. The entire day is spent romping and playing as only woodland friends can—hanging by tails in trees, throwing darts made from porcupine quills and acorns, and splashing in the creek. The tale, punctuated by purple-colored “stinky puffs” from Sassafras Skunk, meanders realistically, until the creatures are tuckered out. When they all start yawning, everyone burrows in Pepper Opossum’s den to sleep. Everyone but Chester. Apparently, his mother’s Kissing Hand makes him feel safe, but it is not powerful enough to keep him from being homesick. Mrs. Opossum is kindly understanding, and a neighboring rabbit hops him back to his own hollow. An out-of-place poem muddles the end; it’s not a rhyme that will help kids address their own worries but, instead, simply a recap of the story.

Oddly incongruent to the Kissing Hand (1993) premise—fans of the original will likely be perplexed, though it does present a familiar childhood dilemma without shaming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-939100-11-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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