A lesson in diversity and making people welcome that starts kids off on the right foot in these rough, divided times.

CLICK, CLACK, MOO I LOVE YOU!

A little diversity goes a long way toward getting the party started in this latest farm tale from Cronin and Lewis.

While Farmer Brown is busy fixing up the farmyard, mucking out the pigpen, giving hay to the donkey, and mending fences, Little Duck is just as busy spiffing up the barn for a dance, hanging streamers and lights and balloons and cutting out hearts to make valentines for all her guests (glitter festoons the book). That evening, Little Duck and her guests are great examples of host and guests; she greets everyone individually with a valentine, and they give her food for the party. (Except the cows; they are at a fancy ball.) Music gets the dancing started, but not the mingling—at least until one last, late arrival. Will Little Fox add to the party or eat the party? Little Duck isn’t daunted. She hands her last card to Little Fox, and they cut a rug, inspiring the rest of the guests to mingle freely until the cows (literally) come home. Lewin’s characters are a delight, their facial expressions bringing life to this party. And the mice doing the hustle? They are worth the price of admission all by themselves.

A lesson in diversity and making people welcome that starts kids off on the right foot in these rough, divided times. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4496-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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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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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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