Kids will wolf this one down—and won’t feel sheepish about it.

SHEEPISH

WOLF UNDER COVER

A wolf in sheep’s clothing gets the wool pulled over its eyes.

A wolf adorned in fleecy disguise stealthily scuttles along to the farm’s sheep quarters, visions of scrumptious ovine delicacies dancing in its head. The wolf is so convinced it’s incognito among the crowd, it doesn’t notice the herd’s completely on to it the whole time. As if in a guidebook for would-be sheep predators, the wolf outlines steps in its master plan: “Be helpful…handy…fun…friendly…a team player…[and] the sheepiest sheep that ever was.” Giggle-inducing illustrations depict the wolf helping the sheep wash dishes, do laundry, bake, cut wood, enjoy exercise class and shuffleboard, and read to youngsters. Naturally, all these activities are designed to lull woolly critters into becoming…a wolf banquet. But wait! A winsome lamb’s post-storytime peck on the cheek tears the wolf’s plans asunder and sends it scurrying home, where it doffs its woolly duds and forsakes its former lifestyle and diet. All ends well when a knock on the door springs a bevy of costumed visitors on the incredulous erstwhile hunter. This amiable tale comically explores how love and acceptance can turn a dedicated curmudgeon’s stony heart to mush. The dynamic, cartoonish illustrations are the real draw and will capture kids’ chuckling attention; the minimal, humorous text will appeal to emergent readers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.3-by-16.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 81.1% of actual size.)

Kids will wolf this one down—and won’t feel sheepish about it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0732-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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