It’s capably enough executed, but there are no surprises here.

I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK

An extraterrestrial spaceship crashes into the “Goldilocks” fairy tale in this mashup metafictive picture book.

Prince Zilch, from Planet Zero, is unexpectedly bumped out of his book and into Goldilocks & 3 Bears, where his presence alters the plot considerably. Determined to find his way back to his own book, he enlists the help of the bewildered bears, who were picking blueberries (being sick of porridge) when the alien landed. The familiar trappings of the “Goldilocks” story are put into service with this new plot: the three chairs are balanced one on top of the other to try to boost Prince Zilch out of the confines of the book—and Baby Bear’s chair breaks. Next, the three mattresses are stacked into a makeshift trampoline, and the bears make reference to their springiness (“That’s what you think,” Goldilocks mutters). Davies’ flattish, colorful illustrations, dotted with variously colored speech bubbles, keep the visual stimulation high, but they cannot keep the story, with its overdependence on subversive Goldilocks-fairy-tale digs, from wearing thin. And when, in a metamoment, Baby Bear enlists the help of readers, entreating them, “Can you shake the book? Go ahead, shake it! Then turn the page!” it is less of an eye-opener in this popular subgenre and more of a “been there; done that.”

It’s capably enough executed, but there are no surprises here. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6307-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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