This odd Duck and grouchy Bear make an excellent pair.

COME HOME ALREADY!

From the Goodnight Already! series

Will Bear get a vacation from Duck? Will Duck survive Bear’s absence?

When Duck goes for his daily visit to his neighbor Bear’s house, he finds a sign on the door that says “Gone fishin’ / Back next week.” Duck can’t believe his friend left him behind. Trekking through the woods, Bear’s happy to be away from his intrusive neighbor. Duck’s not—he can’t find anything to do with himself (and he tries a lot of diversions). But Bear does not find camping as easy as he thought; he’s not successful at fishing…and the woods can be scary at night. Something spooky comes out of the woods—much screaming ensues—but it’s only Duck, come to check on Bear and bringing his camping skills (and snacks). Bear’s actually glad to see his neighbor; camping’s more fun when not alone…but solitary Bear isn’t so sure how he feels when, once home, Duck says, “I’ll always be by your side, Bear. Always and forever.” John and Davies team up for a third (and possibly the best) tale of reluctant, one-sided friendship. The story, told entirely in the characters’ monologues (with a bit of dialogue toward the end), is dynamic and begs to be hammed up during read-alouds. Davies’ bright and funny illustrations are equal partners in the telling of the tale and its humor—Bear’s expressions say it all.

This odd Duck and grouchy Bear make an excellent pair. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-237097-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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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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