A nice addition to the “growing up” books that not only deals with an obstacle to overcome, but features a main character...

A BIG BOY NOW

Spinelli and Lloyd celebrate the self-confidence that arises from a child’s achieving the milestones of growth, including the ups and downs of riding a bike sans training wheels.

With a little bunny narrating, the first half of the book focuses on all the things he can do now that he is a big boy. From getting dressed and doing chores to feats of skill on the playground and being kind, he certainly does seem to be maturing. And parents are sure to appreciate the things Spinelli highlights: cleaning up after himself, pitching in and especially putting others first—his guest gets the first turn, he is a good sport and he shares with his little sister. The second half of the book describes the bunny’s bumpy road to learning to ride a two-wheeler. He starts off well enough, but a wobble leads to a fall and some skinned appendages. A pep talk from Mom soothes his bruised self-confidence, while some practice helps him to success. Created with scratchboard and a spring palette of watercolors, Lloyd’s bunny characters are exuberant and upbeat. And while their range of emotions is rather limited (the bunny smiles even when washing dishes and making his bed), they successfully convey both pride and self-confidence.

A nice addition to the “growing up” books that not only deals with an obstacle to overcome, but features a main character that is slightly older than most in this genre. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-008673-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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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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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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