Bringing the beauty of and responsibility for nature to the city, this will win over readers with its parallel storytelling...

NOAH BUILDS AN ARK

Noah receives a lesson on surviving storms from his family and uses it to give safe passage to the denizens of the family’s backyard.

Salamanders, toads, snakes, hummingbirds, butterflies, field mice, and grasshoppers can all be found in little Noah’s backyard garden. Noah spies the dark clouds hovering over the cityscape as his father declares, “It’s going to be a beauty.” Rather than depict heavy rainstorms as ominous and menacing, Banks and Rocco instead instill the message that the proper preparations can ensure a family’s safety. That logic extends to the backyard. As Noah’s father boards up the windows of their row house, Noah capably repurposes his broken-down wagon into an ark. As Noah’s mother and sister stack groceries and fill water jugs, Noah prepares food for the ark’s creatures. When the rain finally arrives, the family is soothed enough to enjoy board games and share stories by candlelight. Inside the ark, the creatures imaginatively begin to take advantage of one another’s intimate company as well. When the storm finally settles, the creatures exit, two by two of course, back to the tiny, thriving ecosystem of the family’s fenced-in slice of earth. Rocco’s meticulous paintings depict a brown-skinned family carefully preparing for the weather; the animals are not directly anthropomorphized, but compositions give a cozy sense of community.

Bringing the beauty of and responsibility for nature to the city, this will win over readers with its parallel storytelling and appreciation for human- and nonhumankind alike. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7484-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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