A hushed, lyrical glimpse into the world of dreamers.

WHEN THE WORLD IS DREAMING

The dreams of woodland creatures—and one Little Dreamer’s—take the spotlight in this whimsical exploration of nighttime fantasies.

“What does the Little Snake dream / at the end of the day? / After the wriggling, / the sunning, the play.” An unnamed narrator poses the question as a black-haired, light-brown–skinned girl observes a snake slithering through grass. An answer follows in the next spread: the text shifts into the first person (and the type into one that emulates hand printing) as the snake fantasizes about sailing the skies as a kite’s tail. A pattern soon forms. Using a gentle rhyming scheme, Gray introduces readers to Little Deer, Little Newt, and other creatures in their natural environments before plumbing the depths of their dreams. Delight comes in the shape of the unexpected. For example, Little Turtle’s dream of a Sky Turtle “playing hide-and-seek” stuns in its quiet simplicity. Pak’s watercolor pictures capture the wistful tone during moments like these. Hazy, smeared colors and loose lines reflect the relaxed pace of the story, mitigating the danger-filled undercurrent that occasionally pops up. (The illustration for Little Mouse’s dream of leaving “that cat behind on shore” obscures a strange tension in retrospect.) After each creature shares its dream, the girl must share hers. “What does Little Dreamer dream / at the end of the day?” That question may apply to readers as well.

A hushed, lyrical glimpse into the world of dreamers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-58262-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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