This indeed should please the bees! (Picture book. 4-8)

PLEASE PLEASE THE BEES

From his morning toast with honey to a last cup of tea with honey at bedtime, Benedict’s fondness for the sticky stuff defines just about everything he does.

So when the honeybees go on strike, it’s a crisis: breakfast tastes terrible, and his routine is thrown totally out of whack. A union rep holding a tiny “Strike!” sign opens negotiations. Benedict isn’t having any of it: “I let you all live in my yard. All I ask is for a few jars of honey. You should be grateful.” The bee is incredulous: “Buddy, we deliver three jars of honey to you every day. Every month! Every year! Do the math, Einstein!” The bee lists their grievances: a leaky, drafty hive and a weedy yard that forces mileslong flights to find flowers. Chagrined, Benedict does “some research…a little shopping…[and] a lot of work”; he even studies up on how to harvest the honey himself. The bee-yard now a pollinator’s paradise, the union rep calls off the strike, and life is sweet once again—“for everyone.” In his authorial debut, illustrator Kelley shows a knack for a wry turn of phrase, an effective economy with character development, and a good sense of textual pacing. The illustrations are frequently a hoot, in particular the many hovering bees holding their signs aloft as Benedict looks on in consternation, and Benedict’s transformed yard is lovely to behold.

This indeed should please the bees! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8075-5183-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

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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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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