WATERSONG

A red fox seeks shelter as a rainstorm builds in intensity.

As the rain begins with a “drip drop,” the fox encounters other creatures, each moving through the pond and forest, finding its own niche or hiding place. The text, in the aptly named Brioso typeface, is scattered across double-page spreads in varying sizes and strengths appropriate to the force of the storm. McCanna’s carefully chosen words are nearly all onomatopoeia, a cacophony of water sounds that resonates on tongue and ear, demanding to be read aloud, moving from “pitter patter” through “gurgle burble” and all the way to “slap and slam,” before finally calming down with “whoosh sigh.” When the rain ends, the syntax changes to verbal commands, exhortations to “sprout” and “sparkle” and “glow.” Text and illustrations weave an interconnected, interdependent tale. There is no mention of the fox or the setting in the text. The creatures and their actions are for readers to discover in Smythe’s brightly hued, digitally finished watercolor illustrations. Frogs and ducks, an owl, snails, a worm, a mouse, and more run, splash, and fly. Hiding eyes watch from behind reeds, mushrooms, and lily pads as the wind whips leaves and branches and trees crash. In the aftermath of the storm, there’s sunshine, a rainbow, and a young fox family. Backmatter introduces such concepts as ecosystems and the water cycle.

Beautiful. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6881-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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