Winter Lullaby / Wonky Donkey’s Big Surprise

Winter Lullaby
Dianne White and Ramona Kaulitzki
Walker Books

At the approach of winter when the air is crisp and cold, Mama Bear tells her little one that it’s time for bed but Small Bear notices Mouse and Chipmunk are still wide awake and busy; so too are Skunk and Hare.

Patiently acknowledging her offspring’s “But why must I?”, Mama explains that each one is preparing for a long winter sleep: Mouse is rushing to rest in her soft grassy nest and Chipmunk is storing nuts then he too will hibernate; Skunk will soon slumber underground and Hare will spend winter in a hollow log.

However Small Bear also spots Badger and Old Racoon, both still awake too, so he holds firm to his “But I don’t want to go inside … Why must we hide?”

Mama then promises that come the spring, they’ll both wake up and find their world green again, just waiting for them to play together once more. Finally Small Bear accepts that it is time to snuggle up warm with his mother and let the night sing them lullabies until they both fall fast asleep and slumber all winter long.

Told in rhyming couplets and through Ramona Kaulizki’s scenes of the final autumnal days giving way to winter’s bluish-silvery landscapes, this is both a lovely reassuring pre-bedtime tale and a simple explanation of hibernation for adults and little ones to share, snuggled together just like Mama Bear and her cub.

Wonky Donkey’s Big Surprise
Craig Smith and Katz Cowley
Scholastic

One morning wee Dinky Donkey is hugely excited and that’s because her pa Wonky has promised her a very big surprise. Rather than tell his little one what to expect, Wonky turns the whole surprise thing into a guessing game explaining that behind the big green door is where she’ll find her surprise. The guessing begins – “Is it warm?, “Is it washable?” … “is it witty? …

By the time Wonky has acknowledged “Sometimes it’s even whiffier than your dad!” Dinky cannot contain herself any longer. She leaps up and dashes to the door: now what could possibly be wonderful, wrinkly, wiggly, witty, weird, whiskery, washable, warm, whiffy and wise? WOW! What a lot of w’s to describe just one thing. Now what could it possibly be? It’s certainly something that will make Dinky and young listeners feel warm all over.

The story is delivered in Craig Smith’s characteristic playful, spirited rhyming narrative and Katz Cowley’s strokeable illustrations wherein the focus is on, not Wonky, but his endearing offspring.

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