The start of a beautiful friendship. Lovely.

WHO GOES THERE?

There’s something scary out there, disturbing Lewis Mouse in his cozy home.

Lewis lives in a tiny hole at the bottom of a large tree. He has made it warm and comfortable, but he senses that something is missing. When he hears “SCRITCH SCRATCH TAP TAP TAP,” he imagines threats from a great horned owl, a sneaky cat or a big bear, and he puts forth his bravest, loudest voice, shouting, “Who goes there?” Though leading to expectations of a scary ending in the manner of the various incarnations of the “Tailypo” folk tale, the story takes a different, more comforting turn. Lewis finds that Joy, another mouse, has been making those sounds while preparing her home for the winter. She, in turn, was frightened by his loud bellows. So, it is all a case of mistaken identity, and the two mice find companionship for the long winter ahead—and Lewis realizes that the missing “something” was a friend. Wilson makes good use of sound effects and repetition to build suspense and depicts Lewis as no scaredy-mouse, as he bravely faces his fears. Little readers will be reassured by the warm, fuzzy conclusion. Currey’s pen, ink and watercolor illustrations nicely contrast the dark night with the cozy interiors and are a bit Beatrix Potter–esque in their depictions of Lewis.

The start of a beautiful friendship. Lovely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4169-8002-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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