THE VERY SMALL

A tiny, fey woodland creature and an oversized baby bear form an unlikely friendship in this bewitching tale. Dunbar crafts a tale about the magic of friendship and the generosity of spirit it inspires. Giant Baby Bear discovers a very young, lost little creature in the woods and dubs him “the Very Small.” In an effort to soothe his apprehensive companion, Giant Baby Bear takes it home. However, the comforts of Baby Bear’s home prove dubious to the Very Small, who is alarmed by Mommy Bear’s oversized teeth and Daddy Bear’s huge face. Baby Bear willingly offers to share all that he has with the Very Small and even creates a miniature play area to entertain the tiny creature. Soon the two are sharing everything from dinner to a dip in the tub together. It takes a Giant Baby Bear–sized sneeze to return the foundling to its home, catapulting the Very Small out of bed and into the welcoming embrace of its own family. Dunbar’s gentle tale resonates with the grace and beauty of unselfish friendship. Gliori’s beguiling illustrations are in complete harmony with the tale, shining with the tenderness of the story. Full-page, full-bleed watercolor illustrations are done in a blend of light and bold hues; soft pastels convey the snug warmth of the Bear household while richly colored earth tones dominate the forest scenes. Fetching drawings depict the Very Small as a diminutive, faerie-like creature while Baby Bear’s stocky body is evocative of a large, ursine toddler. A delightfully whimsical and inviting tale that’s perfect for cuddle time. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-202346-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

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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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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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