THE LITTLEST YAK

Discouraged with her small stature, a little yak tackles a size-related challenge.

Living atop a snowy mountain, Gertie’s the smallest yak in her huddling herd. Despite having the “curliest, whirliest wool” as well as “splendidly grippy” hooves to scale the most “slippy” cliff, Gertie longs for “BIGNESS.” She wants to grow up to have “greatness and tallness” and the “hugest of hooves and humongous horns.” Reminding Gertie that yaks are “all shapes and sizes / and BIGNESS can come in all sorts of disguises,” Gertie’s mother urges her to enjoy being small. Nevertheless, Gertie embarks on a “Growing-Up Plan,” eating well, exercising, and reading to make her thoughts grow, but despite her efforts, “no growing arrive[s].” But then the herd frantically calls on Gertie to rescue a yak trapped on a cliff edge, a dangerous mission only she can attempt, and Gertie discovers she’s had “bigness inside” all along. The jolly, fast-paced, rhyming verse propels readers through diminutive Gertie’s harrowing, wind-swept rescue mission and matches the upbeat mood of her quest for “bigness.” A pleasing palette of silvers, grays, and blues with red and yellow accents accentuates the bleak, snowy mountaintop venue, while whimsical scenes of hairy, wide-eyed, comical yaks of assorted shapes and sizes sporting amusing cold-weather headgear will trigger chuckles and reinforce the message of individuality.

A real little winner. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68263-282-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

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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