A less ebullient outing than usual.

HORSE & BUGGY PLANT A SEED!

From the I Like To Read series

Growing plants takes water, soil, sun, and patience.

In the same vein as a popular pachyderm-and-porker pair, a cartoon horse and a sun hat–wearing horsefly engage in agricultural pursuits—with minimal props—against a flat, neon background that changes color with each page or each panel. The goal of this adventure is to plant seeds and grow vegetables (or vegetables and fruits depending on how one categorizes tomatoes, though the book does not wade into that debate). Buggy is determined to get on with the job while Horse’s high energy levels and abbreviated attention span provide comedic distractions. Befitting this very elementary early reader, the dialogue-only text that peppers the story is sparse—limited to mostly one-syllable words and a few brief sentences, the longest of which contains six words. This entry in the series, alas, is not as successful as its predecessors. The combination of incredibly spare text and frequent jumps from one conversation to the next may leave some children feeling disjointed or confused. These leaps also distract from the final joke, which stems from planting unknown seeds; its subtle buildup is at odds with the broad humor of the characters. The ultrabright backgrounds often compete with tiny Buggy and pale gray Horse, overshadowing the duo. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 56% of actual size.)

A less ebullient outing than usual. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4498-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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