THE CHRISTMAS BLESSING

A ONE-OF-A-KIND NATIVITY STORY ABOUT THE LOVE THAT BRINGS US TOGETHER

Bickering animals unite to clean up their barn for the arrival of baby Jesus.

A thundering voice asks Mama Star to shine a path for the wandering family whose baby will fill the world with light. Mama Star shines bright to lead the way. At the Bethlehem stable, she asks the animals, who have awoken in confusion, to calm down and work together to clean up for “great visitors.” The different animals argue over the responsibility. Mama Star’s light fills the stable as she speaks to them again, telling them to look at how each kind of animal loves their young, families, and friends: “Love is love, if you’re a goat, a pig, a horse, or hen.” The coming birth will bless everyone and spread love on Earth, she tells them. The animals cuddle their young, then each starts to pitch in to clean the manger and create a comfortable space for the birth. The final page holds a rhyming “Christmas blessing” filled with thanks. The main story’s text rhymes gently, though some lines are awkwardly phrased, and many lack the rhythmic structure that makes for smooth read-alouds. Soft-focus illustrations depict Mama Star as an angelic shape composed of white light; human characters are pictured from afar or from behind, leaving their appearances up to readers’ imaginations. With the focus on unity around the blessing of Christ’s birth, this will make a nice addition to religious Christian homes.

Serves its purpose. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-4049-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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 sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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