Another sweet Boynton bedtime read-aloud for the family bookshelf.

JUNGLE NIGHT

From the Boynton on Board series

In the quiet jungle night, a snoring elephant disturbs the snoozing animals’ peace.

This takes its place in Boynton’s great bedtime–board-book oeuvre, next to The Going To Bed Book (1982) and so many others. “It is nighttime in the jungle. / The moon will surely rise. / All the animals are sleeping, / with whisperings and sighs,” the story begins. Each turn of the page shows a different dozing animal with its own unique sound. The tiger goes, “ZEEE-ZOOO-HAAA,” and the frogs go, “BROPP-BRUPPIT!” Set within Boynton’s assured verse, these sounds make for a particularly delicious read-aloud. “But sometime after midnight, / the elephant goes… // SNORE! // And whoever had been sleeping / isn’t sleeping anymore.” Boynton’s illustrations include her classic silly touches, like a mouse being blown away by the elephant’s snore, and anyone who has ever lain awake at night will recognize the wide, unblinking eyes on the animals at the end. The book also includes a link to download or stream a free copy of famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s performance of Erik Satie’s “Jungle Gymnopédie No. 1.” Perhaps even more delightful than the bouncy lullaby is Keith Boynton’s rich narration and Ma’s “animal snores” on cello, also freely available at the same link.

Another sweet Boynton bedtime read-aloud for the family bookshelf. (free audio download) (Board book. 6 mos.-2)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5235-1360-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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

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KNIGHT OWL

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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