An attractive visual presentation complements an engaging text for a fresh interpretation of an old theme.

BABY WREN AND THE GREAT GIFT

A little bird explores her environment, meeting other creatures with special talents before discovering her own.

The baby wren is first seen alone in her nest, but she soon hops out and meets other birds, animals, and fish. To the tiny bird, the soaring kingfisher and eagles, splashing sunfish, and cartwheeling ring-tailed cats are amazing and accomplished, doing spectacular things that astonish a naïve little bird. In classic find-your-own-talent fashion, the baby wren is then so inspired by a glowing, pink sunrise that she is moved to sing her own song, which can be heard all over the canyon. The lyrical text uses rich, poetic imagery along with judicious repetition to create a memorable setting for the little bird’s exploratory journey. A large format and double-page-spread illustrations in jewel tones make the canyon setting appealing, though the bird is sometimes dwarfed by the expansive vistas. When the baby wren finds her own voice, she offers a big, open-ended thank you for everything in her world. There is no overt religious content in the text, though there is a short quotation on the front cover flap referring to prayer and a brief quote on the back cover flap from Martin Luther about the power of song.

An attractive visual presentation complements an engaging text for a fresh interpretation of an old theme. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-73389-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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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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