THE VERY SMALL

A tiny, fey woodland creature and an oversized baby bear form an unlikely friendship in this bewitching tale. Dunbar crafts a tale about the magic of friendship and the generosity of spirit it inspires. Giant Baby Bear discovers a very young, lost little creature in the woods and dubs him “the Very Small.” In an effort to soothe his apprehensive companion, Giant Baby Bear takes it home. However, the comforts of Baby Bear’s home prove dubious to the Very Small, who is alarmed by Mommy Bear’s oversized teeth and Daddy Bear’s huge face. Baby Bear willingly offers to share all that he has with the Very Small and even creates a miniature play area to entertain the tiny creature. Soon the two are sharing everything from dinner to a dip in the tub together. It takes a Giant Baby Bear–sized sneeze to return the foundling to its home, catapulting the Very Small out of bed and into the welcoming embrace of its own family. Dunbar’s gentle tale resonates with the grace and beauty of unselfish friendship. Gliori’s beguiling illustrations are in complete harmony with the tale, shining with the tenderness of the story. Full-page, full-bleed watercolor illustrations are done in a blend of light and bold hues; soft pastels convey the snug warmth of the Bear household while richly colored earth tones dominate the forest scenes. Fetching drawings depict the Very Small as a diminutive, faerie-like creature while Baby Bear’s stocky body is evocative of a large, ursine toddler. A delightfully whimsical and inviting tale that’s perfect for cuddle time. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-202346-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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