A sweet message for school communities.

PRINCIPAL TATE IS RUNNING LATE!

What will happen to Hardy Elementary school when reliable Principal Tate runs late?

Principal Tate, a large white hen, holds everything together at school, cheering the students and making sure things run smoothly. But this morning, as the buses pull up and the school day starts, Principal Tate is missing. (Readers saw her under the hood of her car at the side of the road after the title page.) All sorts of small animals enter the school for their day, and problems enter with them: Someone is being teased; someone else is throwing up. There are visitors and parents waiting for Principal Tate; there’s a fire drill planned, and here comes the school board for their meeting! Before things descend into chaos, the staff and students spring into action, solving problems by sharing art, song, books, and food and by making phone calls. By the time the hero—bus driver Mr. Morales (a brown terrier)—shows up with Principal Tate, the school has proven that “it’s a place of community, / working so beautifully, together in unity.” The rhyming text feels a bit forced, and while the pileup of urgent situations is both a bit arbitrary and over-the-top, it builds momentum and suspense to keep the pages turning. The artwork is busy with few contrasting colors, requiring some extra focus to identify the all-animal characters mentioned in the text. Emotions and relationships are visualized and engaging. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet message for school communities. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-302574-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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