Even the most bee-phobic readers will have a hard time resisting this swarm of humor and fact.

GIVE BEES A CHANCE

Following much the same format as in I’m Trying to Love Spiders (2015), Barton makes a strong case for the value of bees.

Edgar, a torpedo-shaped white kid with googly eyes and a scribble of hair, loves everything the narrator does, including dinosaurs, strawberries, and honey, but he’s not so sure about bees. The narrator proceeds to persuade him to “give bees a chance,” telling him there are “about 25,000 different kinds of bees to love” (a sampling of which are introduced on front and rear endpapers), describing the composition of a honeybee colony and honeybee anatomy, and regaling him with cool bee facts. Edgar’s still not sure, because, he says, “they’re all gonna sting me!” Since many readers likely share Edgar’s apprehension, Barton’s counter to this is delightfully kidcentric: “most bees lose their stinger after attacking,” she says, “which would be like your hand disappearing if you pinched your sister!” Edgar remains unconvinced, so Barton drills down on the importance of bee pollination to the world’s food supply, illustrating it with a strawberry plant that says, “throw me some pollen! I don’t have arms.” Barton’s digital mix of scribbly cartoons and comics-style panels, splashy, watercolor-effect backgrounds, and exuberant hand-lettering makes for a high-energy celebration of all things Apis.

Even the most bee-phobic readers will have a hard time resisting this swarm of humor and fact. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-670-01694-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 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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