Readers may learn a thing or two about both being a friend and getting over their own fears.

GROUNDHUG DAY

A moose and his forest friends are busy planning a Valentine’s Day party, but one aspect of the organizing stops them in their tracks.

Squirrel’s got the balloons covered, Bunny’s on the cards, and Porcupine is practicing hugs. But when Moose announces that everyone has to come, Bunny points out a potential problem: if Groundhog sees his shadow, he’ll go back to sleep and miss the party. The animals try to devise clever solutions, but they argue so long about which is best that they miss their opportunity: Groundhog’s already seen his shadow and gone back inside. When the friends surmise that he is afraid of shadows, they each propose a fun way to ease his fears, and they are successful. But to their disappointment, Groundhog is still going back to bed: it’s cold. They do receive “Groundhugs” beforehand, though. Six weeks later Groundhog emerges sporting a jaunty green suit and top hat, ready for a St. Patrick’s Day party. But now Bunny is mysteriously holed up….Denise’s digital illustrations anthropomorphize the friends, who walk on their hind legs. Most are accessorized and/or clothed, and they are surrounded by familiar human sights: houses, furniture, teacups. The light and shadows in the artwork are magical, a golden glow pervading the spreads.

Readers may learn a thing or two about both being a friend and getting over their own fears. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-5356-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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