The Year of the Sheep is cause for celebration, especially for fans of the series.


From the Tales from the Chinese Zodiac series

In this 10th installment from the Tales of the Chinese Zodiac picture-book series, a curious lamb rallies her friends to keep the town from going thirsty.

Sydney is one hungry little lamb. Her shepherdess, Zhi, guides the way to meadows, where springtime has “coaxed tender blades from the ground.” But Sydney’s desire to go off the beaten path leads to mischief: She gets stuck in an apple tree; she munches on the flowers in a garden; and she discovers that a chimney is not her friend. After a great storm passes, Sydney, Zhi and friends find their land and pastures destroyed. Ever curious, Sydney uncovers a major problem with the river. She concocts a plan to help but will need the cooperation of all her zodiac-animal friends, who aren’t accustomed to working together. According to the author’s note, readers born in the year of the sheep are kindhearted and cooperative, and Chin uses these traits well to create a sweet, wild and woolly heroine. For the first time, Chau illustrates for this series, and she is a good fit. Some brush strokes and scenes are reminiscent of Chinese brush painting, and little surprises, such as a resting tiger counting sheep in Chinese, add mysticism and charm.

The Year of the Sheep is cause for celebration, especially for fans of the series. (list of zodiac animals) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59702-104-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Immedium

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Hee haw.

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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 charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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