Friends build a fort and an even stronger relationship.

JASPER & OLLIE BUILD A FORT

From the Jasper & Ollie series

The mismatched pals from Jasper & Ollie (2019) are back.

Jasper, an impulsive, know-it-all fox, and chum Ollie, a deliberate sloth, decide to hold a fort-building contest. Or, rather, Jasper decides. The duo gets down to it. Jasper speedily and haphazardly slaps together a messy, precarious, dangerous-looking structure, adding to it an extra story, duct tape, and outlandish embellishments, including a moat and a self-aggrandizing statue. In contrast, Ollie gathers proper tools, consults a blueprint, then builds a fort slowly, carefully, and logically. Surprise! When Jasper’s masterpiece is revealed, it thunders to the ground, a casualty of overweight and faulty construction. Jasper’s disconsolate. The very embodiment of a great friend, Ollie consoles Jasper with an invitation into an impeccably built treehouse that, as a curtain reveals, has cozy “room for two.” In a most satisfying conclusion—and with an uncharacteristic admission—Jasper concedes that Ollie’s fort is best, though not without adding a “Jasper” to it. This is a rollicking story of two endearing friends pitted against each other in a comical non-competition, and readers, having recognized all along that this was never really a contest, will chuckle over Jasper’s raucous antics. The delightful, energetic illustrations depict Jasper’s riotous efforts on spreads and recto pages; Ollie’s labors appear on verso pages. Capitalized letters and onomatopoeic sound effects incorporated into the text heighten comedic appeal.

Friends build a fort and an even stronger relationship. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-64524-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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