The story is serious about its shift from glum to optimistic, but the background colors and the animals’ humorous...

HOW DO YOU DO?

One animal helps two animals out of the doldrums.

Water Buffalo and Crane are in a rut. The weather’s too hot, and “when one is all the time hot, days grow long and the world small.” Indeed, their hill is exaggeratedly rounded, as if they’re standing on a shrunken Earth. The air’s yellow; Water Buffalo’s eyelids are at half-mast, and he licks sweat off his lip. Their expressions are amusing—but not to them. What can break their sweltering, oppressive gloom? “ ‘How do you do?’ said someone new.” An unforeseen rhyme! Goat licks Water Buffalo and Crane, and “then, as sudden as summer rain, Goat started dancing.” Dancing is contagious. The three dance so high their heads leave the page. “They forgot the sun. They forgot the heat. Had the earth ever smelled so sweet?” Using gouache paint on watercolor paper, Marino swirls her hot yellows into cooler blues and greens, then finally into blue-pinks. Goat departs, but Crane and Water Buffalo are changed for good: the earth feels pleasant, and there are new animals to greet. Is the “summer rain,” as per the text, merely a figure of speech describing Goat’s sudden dancing? Or is it as real as the illustrations show it, sprinkling down? Does it matter?

The story is serious about its shift from glum to optimistic, but the background colors and the animals’ humorous expressions keep it light throughout—anyone who’s needed this kind of intervention will relate. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61963-807-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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