Readers will never look at Groundhog Day in quite the same way again.

GROUNDHOG'S DAY OFF

A groundhog who wants to be appreciated for more than his meteorological skills decides to go on vacation.

Every year, it’s always the same: “Are there going to be six more weeks of winter?! Is spring around the corner?!” People never ask Groundhog about him. So he packs up and heads to the spa, leaving a letter behind to explain himself. The mayor holds auditions for Groundhog’s position, but no animal can match him: among others, Elephant is too big, the nocturnal animals’ schedules are wrong, and “Ostrich got the whole thing backward.” But the auditions do make the TV news, and Groundhog is pleased to hear that his flair, work ethic, and all-around specialness are appreciated after all. He heads home to wide acclaim and loads of questions about himself. Happy, he gives his February forecast and heads into his hole…where Pearlman shatters Groundhog’s peace with a televised announcement that the Easter Bunny has quit. Helquist uses Groundhog’s perspective to show readers just how he is feeling—the scene after he’s shown himself on Groundhog Day, surrounded by litter and utterly alone, is particularly poignant, though the images of him at the spa, cucumbers on his eyes, and the auditioning animals help balance the mood.

Readers will never look at Groundhog Day in quite the same way again. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-6196-3289-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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