A vain show horse slowly accepts the friendly overtures of a donkey named Ernest, giving him the justice he deserves
Ernest was just too scruffy and tiny for Twist, the newly arrived show horse. With nothing else to do, Twist vainly follows Ernest's tour of the farm, seeing the animals, the cool stream, the beautiful pasture, the barn and the feed. Ernest even figures out how to scratch an itch for Twist, and Twist realizes that Ernest is a decent little guy, worthy of friendship. And so it should be, that respect is born of character, not position.
Jenny's hospital visit gently introduces young readers to the hospital environment and its procedures.
Jenny has injured her arm and head in the playground. We are told how Jenny was nervous of the X-ray machine, but then "didn't feel a thing". Her arm is casted and she is kept overnight for observation. Mum and Dad provide the proper support. The important experience the story conveys, and the complementary pictures, make this book useful to read to a child before they ever need a hospital.
Arthur develops a strategy of April Fools tricks to deal with Binky Barne's threatening behavior.
Binky Barnes has been threatening to punch-out Arthur, and has swiped Arthur's favorite pen. At the April Fools Day 'tricks' show on the school stage, Binky rises to sabotage Arthur's presentation. Arthur has an idea to get rid of him. Unfortunately we do not see Arthur prepare to 'magically' saw Binky in half. Still, the idea sends Binky running... Arthur even tricks Binky to get his pen back too. Nastiness is suitably laughed at.
Suddenly a girl for a day, Bill experiences the expectations and treatments many girls experience.
When Bill wakes to find he is a girl, he discovers he must wear a pretty pink frock with shells for buttons. Adults automatically expect him to do nice things for them. The boys exclude him from football (soccer), which dominates the schoolyard leaving little recess space girls. But, boys don't hit Bill when he takes their ball. A boy might get insight into girls from this story. How Bill's sex change occurred, is left unexplained, dangling.
Frog and Toad's friendship copes with winter sledding, spring misunderstandings, summer lessons, failed good intentions, and worry over a late friend at Christmas.
Though less purposeful than usual, these Lobel stories still show character and friendship, in a seasonal context. While winter sledding at Frog's insistence Toad finally has enough, and heads home. Frog tells Toad how he misconstrued "spring is round the corner". In summer Frog is patient when Toad has trouble with melting ice cream. In autumn each tries to secretly help the other but fall winds scatter their good intentions. At Christmas, Toad worries when Frog is late.
Without being too sentimental, Glassman presents the idea that a woman's family life and career (as a witch) combine to form her overall, good character.
My Working Mom is helpful for, well... working moms. It works for kids too. A little girl reasons through her Mom's job as a real witch. Mom always flies off to meetings, she has bad days, but she makes it to school events, albeit at the last minute. So, Mom's pretty good. In spite of a serious lack of plot, Tedd Arnold's illustrations infuse the story with his brand of fun.
Billy copes with the amusing problems and boyish adventures of having two owls as uncaged pets.
We are told, autobiographically, how Billy retrieves and makes pets of two owls. "Wol" was saved from a downed tree in a prairie wood, outside Saskatoon. "Weeps" was rescued from boyish brutality, in town. We learn how Wol scares off the maid, upsets Billy's teacher, scares off threatening, bigger boys and discovers he cannot swim. "Wol" even liked to ride on Billy's bicycle handle bars. It's a fun and easy read.
D.W. learns not to be amused by another's misfortune when Arthur's chicken pox might prevent him from going to the circus with his family.
The circus is coming and Arthur isn't well. As he breaks out with chicken pox, D.W. becomes envious of the attention he gets. She puts on 'Chicken Pox' make-up, to trick Grandma Thora. Thora 'soothes' DW with bath! To Arthur's frustration, D.W. gleefully invites a friend to use Arthur's ticket ...but, will D.W. get away with that? This story will help children understand chicken pox; the less interesting Itchy, Itchy Chicken Pox offers more information.
The love a mother shows her son becomes rather odd as he matures, but her love is both returned and 'passed on' to her grandchildren.
A new mother rocks her son and sings him the "Love You Forever" verse. Throughout his life she slips into his room to rock him and sing. When she is too old it is he who holds her and sings. Moved, he returns home to rock and sing to his baby daughter. The sentimental understanding is too much to impose on children, and is marred by Munsch's humor by exaggerated behavior.
Crass Johnny Squelchnose is slow to grasp why a polite and helpful PIG is invited to parties, and he is not.
Johnny Squelchnose is just too crass to invite to parties. Even his sister calls him "a pig!" New neighbor Claude Curlytail has polite and helpful ways that make him welcome at parties. Johnny is outraged, because Claude IS a pig. Claude invites Johnny to a party, where the contrast is so clear that Johnny grasps the point. The story has definite utility, but VM suggests Johnny chooses manners for the wrong reasons (see full review).