An absolute treasure for anyone who has ever moved.

THE BLUE HOUSE

A father and son are forced from their longtime neighborhood.

Leo and his dad love their rented “old blue house” despite its quirks (peeling paint, a mossy roof, leaks and creaks). The house is filled with so many memories that make it theirs. In the winter, the duo make cozy forts and bake pies to warm up when the old heater breaks. They dance to “Spruce Springsteel” on vinyl. As the garden fills with raspberries and tomatoes in the summer, Leo plays in the yard until sundown. But, lately, developers have been building “big, new apartments” nearby. Their landlord informs Leo’s dad that the blue house is next to be torn down. Leo and his dad dance, stomp, and rage together. Will their new home ever feel the same? Wahl’s latest is a moving portrait of a single-parent family’s resilience and love amid redevelopment. The textured, deeply colorful art utilizes collage, and the text appears handwritten, giving the rich spreads the feel of a scrapbook. The detailed illustrations enrich not only the memories, but the characters’ colorful personalities and relationship. The third-person narrative’s tight connection to Leo and his emotions positions the text as Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House retold for a new generation. Endpapers depict Leo’s neighborhood before and after redevelopment, effectively showing the impact. Both Leo and his dad present White.

An absolute treasure for anyone who has ever moved. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9336-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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