Extroverts may appreciate the validation, but this series is losing its freshness for everyone else.



From the Goodnight Already! series

Poor, beleaguered Bear must put up with his neighbor Duck’s over-the-top excitement when it snows overnight.

Those familiar with the Goodnight Already! series know that Bear and Duck have previously weathered differences in sleep patterns, activity choices, and some time apart. This time, Extrovert (with a capital E) Duck is thrilled to wake to new snowfall. The first thing Duck does is run to tell Bear, who is in the bath, and cajole him into enjoying the snow together. Introvert (with a capital I) Bear is interested only in drying off. But Duck won’t be put off. “No” is Bear’s answer to every activity suggestion Duck poses, but Duck insists on sledding and snow angels and a snowball fight. Hilariously, Bear is wearing only a yellow and orange polka-dot towel around his waist and a tiny shower cap atop his head; Duck didn’t even let him dry off, which is why his sudden sneeze is no surprise. Duck’s ministrations are the final straw for Bear: “Out! Now!” Duck’s own sneeze leads to a subtle (not!) message for Bear begging for some TLC. Bear is almost a slapstick character in Davies’ illustrations, and Duck is a whirlwind of energy. As in many recent introvert/extrovert books, it’s the introvert who gives in to make the peace: Bear, still sick, comes and tends Duck, though unwillingly. Moreover, the joke simply feels old in this fourth iteration.

Extroverts may appreciate the validation, but this series is losing its freshness for everyone else. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-237099-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Hee haw.

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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 charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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