Books by Doug Kennedy

Released: May 1, 2011

Andersen's classic fairy tale gets a prehistoric setting and cast of characters. When her eighth egg finally hatches, late, mother duck and her seven ducklings are shocked at his rather different appearance—he is a T. Rex, not a Vegavis iaai, as they are. Even a mother's love is not enough to assuage his awareness of his difference, so he runs away. After countless encounters with other creatures fleeing at the sight of him, he finally meets a kindly mother T. Rex who sets him straight and takes him in. Backmatter includes detailed scientific drawings of the featured dinosaurs, an artist's note, bibliography and suggestions for further reading. The author's note explains how "ducks" and dinosaurs lived in the same time period—recently discovered fossil evidence marks Vegavis iaai as an ancestor to today's ducks and geese. Kennedy's cartoonish watercolors nicely balance the ugly "duckling's" good intentions with his slightly threatening appearance and clumsiness, helping readers empathize with him. Facial characterization excels, from the nasty neighbor who can't keep her comments to herself to the hope written all over the ugly "duckling's" face when he tries to befriend a group of Deinonychus. A sure winner for those dino-hungry readers. (Fractured fairy tale. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2010

A rhyming celebration of flowers gets a Silly Symphony artistic treatment with surprising success. At first blush, the grinning daffodil, morning glory and four-o'clock blossoms on the cover appear to have all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. The verse, too, often struggles for both rhyme and scansion. But the enthusiasm that produced both is infectious, and as bloom after bloom, from the familiar—marigold, forsythia—to the more exotic—hellebore, nicotiana—and the downright unexpected—prickly pear, red maple—is introduced, readers can't help but appreciate the sheer variety of them all. Kennedy's mid-20th-century-Disney-inspired acrylics invest all the flowers with personality, from the bespectacled Franklinia to the thuggish ("shady") impatiens, and provide a small army of cheery bugs to watch over them. Ten pages of backmatter provide facts on each flower, instructions for three simple gardens and general gardening information. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2009

A farm odd couple becomes a magical team. Chester the mouse and his best friend Hee-Haw the donkey love to sit under the apple tree on their farm and practice magic tricks. They dream of joining The Great Zambini, traveling the world and doing amazing things. Pig, Rabbit and all the other animals on the farm make fun of them, but no one can daunt their spirit. One day, a circus train passes by the farm, the last car clearly Zambini's—out of which tumbles his trunk full of tricks! Now they can have their own magic show. Their show goes beautifully, impressing the other animals, who are completely suckered in by Chester and Hee-Haw's magician alter egos. Zambini himself appears and then, with his two new assistants, promptly disappears. All told, it's a bright but underdeveloped adventure, with just not enough substance in the tale to make the big reveal much of an event. Doug Kennedy's acrylics really pop—the mustachio'd Hee-Haw-Dini is a treat to behold—but his illustrations seem aimed at a younger audience than sister Kim's ample text. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2006

With a touch of Disney-style Little Mermaid in the cartoon pictures and a bit of Br'er Rabbit in the story, this follow-up to Pirate Pete (2002) should keep young mateys anchored to their seats. Slowed down not a whit by his hook and peg-leg, treasure-loving Pirate Pete sets out to recover the stolen Sea-Fairy Sapphire, for which a tiny mermaid sea fairy has promised him a wondrous ship in exchange. He quickly finds out that the Sapphire is guarded by a huge but not too bright giant, who is easily tricked into throwing both pirate and twinkling gemstone into the sea/briar patch. A cheery-looking Neptune and other finny seafolk wave goodbye as Pirate Pete sails off aboard his new ship in search of "jolly good treasure to plunder!" Not the most rousing of pirate adventures, but a relatively nonviolent addition to the fleet. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2000

Exercising the storyteller's prerogative to mix and match, San Souci (Secret of the Stones, 1999) takes incidents from several traditional "noodle" tales and sets them on the Louisiana bayou. When Ti-Paul, Philippe, and Pierre bring poles but no bait, and Jules, Jacques, and Jean bring bait but no poles, it looks like no one's going to fish. The misinterpreted advice of a passerby only muddies the waters, and the silliness escalates until Pierre decides that he must be dead, since no matter who does the tallying, there only seem to be five people present. Luckily, Pierre's wife, Henriette, arrives to set things straight, more or less. In Kennedy's (Mr. Bumble, 1997) cartoon illustrations, the six dim bulbs struggle through their misadventures wearing wide, vacuous smiles, as a frog and a turtle look on in vast amusement. The tale has a mild gumbo flavor, evoked more by cadence and pacing than dialect, and the droll goings-on will put readers and listeners—even those familiar with similar incidents in Alvin Schwartz's All of Our Noses Are Here (1985) and like collections—in stitches. (glossary, afterword, bibliography) (Picture book/folktale. 6-8)Read full book review >
MR. BUMBLE by Kim Kennedy
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

A motivational tale starring ``the clumsiest bee that ever buzzed.'' Bumbling, fumbling, tumbling, Mr. Bumble drops his freight of pollen every time, returning to his queen with a bucket full of dents. When a new clover patch is discovered, Mr. Bumble is filled with dread. What lurks within it? ``Those of you who are quick and clever have nothing to fear,'' warns the Queen, aware of the danger to Mr. Bumble. When he makes it to the patch, he finds fairiesace flying instructors, who coach Mr. Bumble in the nuances of taking off and landing. He returns to the hive piled high with pollen and, to the applause of his hivemates, has his battered bucket retired, to become an object of inspiration for future bumblers. Both text and illustrations of this sister- and-brother collaboration maintain a lighthearted tone and sport pleasing touches, e.g., the hive is lighted by fireflies under glass. Yet it is Mr. Bumble, like the hero in M.K. Brown's Let's Go Swimming with Mr. Sillypants (1986), who steals the show, a winning dweeb with pluck and heart enough to inspire readers. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >