Reassurance about the resilience of the natural world.

WE WILL LIVE IN THIS FOREST AGAIN

When wildfires rage in a California forest, animals flee; they can return when spring brings new growth.

Inspired by her own experiences in the 2017 fires in California, Marino tells this story in the nostalgic but also hopeful voice of one of the forest-dwellers, a deer. The approaching fire comes as a surprise. “I used to think this forest would always be our home,” the narrator says. The gentle foreshadowing works even for her young audience. An unnoticed spark becomes flames. The animals flee; even the mountain lion is not as fierce as the fire. The exhausted animals reach safety, clean themselves, and wait. Creatures that might not normally get along have banded together. Time passes. Eventually there are new leaves and shoots. The forest is returning, and so can they. In Marino’s poetic text the leaves and branches that “crinkled and crunched” in the fall nicely contrast with the new growth that “will be soft and quiet’ underfoot. In her illustrations, these animals are basically silhouettes with dark eyes and bodies textured by color and shadow. These double-page spreads have the translucence of watercolors and constantly change colors. The yellows and greens of the forest are overtaken by fiery reds and oranges, which turn to sooty gray, then warm brown with, finally, shoots of green. The deer is hopeful. “In time, our forest will return.”

Reassurance about the resilience of the natural world. (author’s note, facts, further information) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4699-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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