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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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 comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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