LOON BABY

When Baby Loon’s mother fails to return, he faces a frightening experience. Baby and Mama Loon live in a soft, warm nest on a small lake in the great north woods. One day Mama submerges to find dinner since Baby can’t dive yet. As he waits, Baby paddles and floats, but soon he’s worried. Mama’s never been gone so long. Determined to find her, Baby puts his head under the water and flip-kicks his feet, making wee dives. When it starts raining, Baby realizes he’s “tired and hungry, cold and wet and lonely, and lost,” and emits a “sinking, giving-up cry.” Suddenly a familiar head surfaces with Baby’s dinner in her beak, and a relieved Baby shows off his new kick-flip all the way home. The simple text tracks Baby’s progression from waiting to worrying to fear to anguish while loosely rendered watercolors in blues, greens and grays textured with pen-and-ink cross-hatch visually follow Baby’s descent into despair. Close-ups show worried Baby repeatedly dipping underwater, his web feet kick-flipping as he frantically searches. Aerial views emphasize Baby’s solitary state as his tiny form paddles alone. In one double-page spread, a stunned Baby bobs amid choppy waves, and in another, a drenched, agonized Baby wails. Guaranteed to hit the mark with anyone who’s ever felt lost and alone. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-25487-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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