An ambitious idea that slightly misses the mark.

IF YOU WERE NIGHT

A child explores a busy nocturnal world.

“If you were the night / and you saw the moon / tiptoe past your window,” begins this poetic story, “would you nestle under the covers? / Or would you stretch and rise / and step out, too?” The beige-skinned child in a gray, hooded jumpsuit observes a host of nighttime animals and joins in their activities; a raccoon rooting through trash, frogs singing, an owl hunting. The gorgeous, shadowy illustrations leap off the pages, three-dimensional paper constructions that manage to balance the darkness of night with the brightness of nature. The text attempts an ethereal style, reminiscent of Julie Fogliano’s If I Was the Sunshine (illustrated by Loren Long, 2009), but never quite makes the leap into the loveliness it’s clearly aiming for. The central conceit, personifying “you” as “night,” is promising but also stops short of making sense; night does not “skitter like a startled mouse,” “shrink from the cold,” or “hide behind a shadow,” and a sudden shift to first person, in the form of a quiet deer, never resolves. Despite these issues, the overall tone of the book and the calming, soothing arc, will help this find some success as a bedtime story. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 19% of actual size.)

An ambitious idea that slightly misses the mark. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0014-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 30

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more