A gentle and slightly surreal celebration of the bond between child and toy.

DEAR BUNNY

A small child finds the best companionship in a toy bunny: animate, lively, and present always in both imagination and life.

The bunny asks, “What’s your favorite thing in the world?” The child responds by enumerating not one but many. The bunny helps the child find the right socks and blows on the oatmeal to cool it (the bunny likes toast and jam). They both like to play, and sometimes, they both like to watch. The child loves to look at the stars. “Someday we will count them all!” The child loves the bunny’s stories, too, sitting on a full-sized bed while the bunny reads aloud from its tiny bed with the carrot-patterned quilt. The digital and collage images are matte and flat, making wonderful use of pattern: a scattering of autumn leaves of many colors in the air and in a pile that the bunny jumps into; the square-tiled floors in the kitchen and bathroom; the profusion of stars on the last page. The child has a dark pageboy and a rosy-peach complexion. No adults appear, but a few other children do, with no obvious attempt to create a consciously diverse cast. The bunny, dressed only in shorts, does cartwheels on the front endpapers and wraps itself in the carrot quilt on the back.

A gentle and slightly surreal celebration of the bond between child and toy. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84780-685-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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