A sweet, if oft-told, story.

LITTLE BLUE BUNNY

A plush toy rabbit bonds with a boy and watches him grow into adulthood.

The boy receives the blue bunny for his birthday and immediately becomes attached to it. Unbeknownst to him, the ungendered bunny is sentient; it engages in dialogue with fellow toys, giving readers insight into its thoughts. The bunny's goal is to have grand adventures when the boy grows up and no longer needs its company. The boy spends many years playing imaginatively with the bunny, holding it close during both joyous and sorrowful times and taking it along on family trips. As a young man, he marries, starts a family, and hands over the beloved toy to his toddler-aged child in a crib. The bunny's epiphany—that he does not need to wait for great adventures since all his dreams have already come true in the boy's company—is explicitly stated in the lengthy text, which is in many ways similar to The Velveteen Rabbit (1922). The illustrations, which look hand-painted but were digitally created, are moderately sentimental with an impressionistic dreaminess (one illustration even includes a bunny-shaped cloud in the sky) and a warm glow throughout. The depiction of a teenage male openly displaying his emotions—hugging his beloved childhood toy for example—is refreshing. All human characters present as White expect for one of the boy’s friends who is Black.

A sweet, if oft-told, story. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-448-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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