Sweet, reassuring, comforting.

THE BARN

Introducing a familiar farmyard presence.

A barn sided in red cedar narrates this soothing story and describes its daily routine, overseeing the animals it lovingly shelters and nurtures. Each spread following the initial setup opens with the line “I am a barn.” The barn begins with a discussion of the communal barn raising that brought it forth over a century earlier; readers will learn details about its construction and how it has stood strong over time. Though not written in verse, the narrative is gently poetic; the simple, straightforward prose brims with pleasant consonants and assonants, and, indeed, the rolling, rhythmic text appeals to all the senses. Slower-paced read-alouds will not only reward listeners, but also allow kids to savor the delightful, muted painted images of greenery, farmland, and the barn’s residents: chickens that “amble out of my coop”; cows that “chomp on tall, rich grass”; and dogs that “romp and wrestle in my outstretched fields.” Calves, barn swallows, and a cat and her adorable brood also appear. Unsurprisingly, the book concludes after almost everyone has fallen asleep within the barn’s cozy embrace. Children will happily note the open-door welcome to the kitty on the last page as she returns home from a scary encounter midway through the story. The dozers are, naturally, a signal to sleepy readers, confirmed with the barn’s final whisper, “I am your barn.” Several humans depicted present White.

Sweet, reassuring, comforting. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0906-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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