A barnyard parable sure to lighten bad mooods.

MOOTILDA'S BAD MOOD

This bovine’s having a bad day!

Little Mootilda wakes up with straw in her hair. When her moomaw gives her a frozen treat to cheer her up, it falls on the ground after one lick. “Her moomaw said, ‘That’s terri-bull, / but don’t stay in and mope.’ / She smoothed her cowlick, smooched her cheek, / and said, ‘Go jump some rope!’ ” Mootilda jumps rope with some other calves. That seems to help until she trips and kicks a bucket of milk, sending it flying and tangling everyone in the rope. One of the calves suggests a swim with sheep, but a big, splashy belly-flop leaves Mootilda in her bad mood. Cycling with pigs and playing basketball with horses end just as disastrously. Four chickens tell her about their bad day: A flying bucket destroyed their painting; a big splash drowned their sand castle….They “cow-miserate” and get some ice cream. She doesn’t realize it, but the conversation has helped. Now when another mischance befalls her ice cream, she laughs—her bad mood has gone. After a few more cow puns, she pulls up a couple bales and opens a “cow-nseling” service. Little ones might need a bit of help understanding Mootilda’s revelation, but Ranucci’s bright illustrations of wide-eyed farm critters are engaging and lively, and the details demand repeated readings. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 79% of actual size.)

A barnyard parable sure to lighten bad mooods. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1086-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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