A happy marriage of text, art, and message that’s absolutely beautiful.

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THE MIGHTY RIVER

Ginalina’s picture book celebrates a wide river’s birds, animals, insects, and plants.

In her debut children’s book, singer/songwriter Ginalina asks what can be seen along “The Mighty River, / wild and free.” Kids and adults enjoying the outdoors might spot “Three pintail ducks / paddling free. // A small black bear / just by the tree.” Other species mentioned include a black-crowned heron, bighorn sheep, and bracken ferns. (Although the river is unnamed, many of the listed creatures and plants suggest western Canada.) Written in a pleasing musical cadence of abcb rhyming quatrains, the book is well suited to reading aloud. The book imparts an air of serenity, peace, and joy in nature. It also gently teaches an environmental lesson by including river facts, space to draw and describe a river animal and scene, and ideas from kids about how to protect watercourses. Wills, an artist and graphic designer illustrating her debut book, provides stylized, well-composed pictures that are a real pleasure to look at. They recall 1930s linocut poster design both in composition and in the palette, limited to a few shades of blue and coral.

A happy marriage of text, art, and message that’s absolutely beautiful.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-989927-01-4

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Peppermint Toast Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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