Gently makes the case that everyone should follow their bliss.

EENY UP ABOVE

There’s no place like home, but you can still make room for adventure.

Sisters Eeny, Meeny, and Miney Mole live companionably in their deep, dark hole. All feel safe in this atmosphere that’s always the same. Older sisters Meeny and Miney don’t ever want to leave, but the much-younger Eeny also loves the world Up Above. Both Meeny and Miney worry about Eeny’s trips Up Above and warn her of the possible dangers; the worst of all are “humans.” This makes Eeny wary but does not deter her. She brings a shovel and pail when she makes her explorations Up Above, and learns tidbits about life there from new friends Worm, Cat, Snake, and Centipede. One day, Something large with five wriggly parts comes down over her head. It smells of dirt and digging. She is frightened but reminds herself that “some moles are content in their old holes. But some moles are not me.” The feeling of Something’s paw is soft and comforting and new. Like Spring. There are some holes in this story; in particular, children will wonder just why Eeny always totes shovel and pail but hardly ever seems to use them. But Brown’s soft illustrations echo Beatrix Potter’s in both delicacy and whimsy, and Yolen’s story of bravery justified should put a smile in readers’ hearts. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Gently makes the case that everyone should follow their bliss. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62371-865-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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