This story is more than just a tale of sticking to your vision—it’s a small world unto itself. A keeper.

BIG BEAR'S BIG BOAT

Bunting and Carpenter (Little Bear’s Little Boat, 2003) team again with a story riding on a Thoreau-vian sensibility with a Zen serenity.

Big Bear has outgrown his boat, so he has given it to Little Bear—who is having a blast with it—and embarked on building a bigger boat. It evolves from looking like a coracle to a whaler—a big rowboat—which is just the ticket, until well-meaning friends suggest Big Bear add a top deck, and a mast, and a cabin. Big Bear, no great carpenter, creates a shambling ramshackle of a boat—off true in every sense of the words. Big Bear gently tells his friends that the boat is not the one of his dreams. So he simplifies, simplifies, back to the big rowboat, back to something ancient and enduring, something to float on to watch the moon rise and the stars shoot, to take a nap to the lap of the water against the hull. The text has a clarity that could be set to music; Carpenter’s artwork is spare, but its colors couldn’t be more emotive and its poses more natural in their capturing of motion and mood.

This story is more than just a tale of sticking to your vision—it’s a small world unto itself. A keeper. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-618-58537-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more