The deserts take a while to get there, but boy, are they just.


Bear’s wily neighbor Fox produces a gigantic green “donkey egg” and convinces Bear to part with $20 for it.

The Stevens sisters delve into the folk tradition for this tale, variants of which appear in such disparate places as Korea and Algeria, creating full personalities for its protagonists along with a satisfying conclusion to the central hoax, turning a practical joke into a win for the dupe. Cameo portraits introduce the main characters, starting with Bear, who “worked hard, but not anymore. Needs motivation.” Bear is large, furry, and sleepy; Rabbit’s energetic and jumpy; Fox is dapper and sly. Readers will know, as Bear knows, that the huge watermelon is not a donkey egg. But Fox is so persuasive that Bear settles in to help the egg hatch. As Bear sits, warming the egg, rocking it, telling it stories, and playing with it, amusing sidebars calculate seconds in minutes, hours, and days and offer helpful facts (“It takes a spider about an hour to spin a fancy web”; “It takes about a week for a snake to sheds its entire skin”). Bear, who seems to snooze away his days, has a purpose. When disaster—of a sort—strikes, Bear’s devotion has sparked his energy, and he is able to act, with his friend Rabbit as cheerleader, turning Fox’s shenanigans into a fine treasure. Stevens’ nicely detailed illustrations with their exaggerated, cartoon humor emphasize the delightful silliness. That there is no note indicating the story's folk origins is a serious omission, however.

The deserts take a while to get there, but boy, are they just. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-547-32767-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Hee haw.

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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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As ephemeral as a valentine.


Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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