A gentle, glowing lesson that even the smallest efforts can lead to large, even environmental results.

PEARL

A tiny mermaid who yearns for grown-up work patiently completes a task that transforms her world.

For her fable about patience and perseverance, Idle has created stunning watery spreads full of curves reflecting the gently scalloped edges of the giant clam that is Pearl’s home. Done with colored pencils in shades of pink and white for the mermaid and soft blues fading to green sea, these suggest an animator’s dream. Her ocean has breaking waves, softly colored coral reefs, “towering forests of kelp,” and a giant—but never threatening—octopus. The tiny grain of sand Pearl’s mother gives her to care for seems insignificant in comparison, but with time, careful nurturing, and polishing, it grows and glows, finally taking its place in the night sky to light up her world. The lyrical text perfectly matches these stunning illustrations. As Pearl and her mother “[swim] up…and up…and up…” the figures rise and the color of the sea lightens. Disappointment at the seemingly trivial task she’s assigned weighs her “down…down…down,” and she slowly sinks back into darker depths. After many scenes showing the small mermaid in a larger sea, a close-up of her face as she discovers the sand’s potential emphasizes her new understanding. Careful word choice and thoughtful phrasing make this a pleasure to read aloud.

A gentle, glowing lesson that even the smallest efforts can lead to large, even environmental results. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-46567-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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 sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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