A wordless picture book that makes a great read.

LITTLE FOX IN THE FOREST

A small child, a fox, and the deep forest: not a grim tale at all but rather a magical journey culminating in an act of mutual kindness.

Front endpapers show a shelf with dolls, stuffed animals (including a stuffed fox), and books, including Adventures of a Small Fox and The Magical Unicorn, which foreshadow the story to come. The protagonist, a brown-skinned child with a black pageboy, brings the much-beloved fox to show and tell and then takes it out to the playground at recess. But when the child plays on the swings, a real fox takes the stuffed fox and runs off with it through the woods. Up to now the wordless panels have been tinged with blue; the live fox is a vivid orange. The child and a light-skinned friend with close-cropped hair and glasses follow, the pages becoming more varied in hue and highly saturated before bursting, Oz-like, with color when they reach the fairy-tale town where the fox lives. The little fox and the child exchange hugs and stuffed animals, the child returns home, and the endpapers now show a polka-dot unicorn in place of the stuffed fox. (Unfortunately, this unicorn, crucial to the arc of the wordless narrative, is mostly covered by the flyleaf.) The illustrations are rendered in pencil, watercolor, and ink, assembled and colored digitally. Young children will pore over this wordless picture book again and again, finding something new to enjoy each time.

A wordless picture book that makes a great read. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-53789-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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