Will have adults and young readers alike reflecting on the indispensable natures of their own favorite stuffies.

BEAR IS A BEAR

In this ode to the timelessness of cherished playthings, a toy bear accompanies a child through myriad experiences.

Bear is not just a bear. Bear is a warm, soft pillow, a tissue when necessary, and a willing and equal partner in play. Bear takes on these various roles with gusto, depicted, through the eyes of a child, as a real, large bear with expressive features and anthropomorphic body language. Humor and sentiment abound as Bear’s reactions elevate the simple yet touching text. Throughout the scenes, the mutual adoration between Bear and child is apparent, and their bond sees them through all kinds of moments, from energetic pirate play to snuggling together during a scary storm. As the child ages, Bear’s necessity fades, and it is relegated to an old trunk and forgotten. Some time later, remembered once more, Bear starts a new friendship after being introduced to the next generation, making its journey come full circle. The repetitive beginning of each sentence—“Bear is…”—reinforces the soothing, reassuring tone of this gentle story. Bear’s rich, golden brown fur exudes warmth and comfort while embodying the repeating refrain: “Bear is a bear full of love.” The heavy use of white space on several pages puts the focus on the pair’s relationship and reflects how they are content in a world of their own. Both the original child and Bear’s new human friend have straight, black hair and pale skin. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Will have adults and young readers alike reflecting on the indispensable natures of their own favorite stuffies. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-288051-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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