This Indian import is a gentle exploration of childhood fantasy.

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GET OFF THAT CAMEL!

Even as an infant, Meena loved her toy camel and “never slept without it.” So when her parents get her a real camel, she rides it everywhere—even if others are inconvenienced.

She ignores repeated cries of “Get off that camel!” at school, shops, the pool, and the movies until the doctor notices the camel’s state of exhaustion and Meena compassionately agrees to keep her pet at a stable. Soon after, her parents bring a new baby brother home, and Meena happily shares her toy camel—which he loves, “never [sleeping] without it,” much to their parents’ evident dismay. With its spare narrative, this story will appeal to imaginative children, who will find humor in the outlandish situations Meena and her camel find themselves in. In a storytime setting, young listeners will likely join in on the titular refrain, “Get off that camel!” The detail-rich illustrations, providing a fanciful window into everyday life in India, encourage repeated browsing. In one amusing double-page spread, the camel farts calmly at disgusted, uniform-clad students while their teacher, who wears a sari, stands at the blackboard, aghast at the disruption. Its progress through the supermarket is viewed from above, giving readers a look at shelves knocked askew and products littering the floor in its wake. Two pages of “fun facts” about camels are included, providing information for curious readers.

This Indian import is a gentle exploration of childhood fantasy. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-81-9390-331-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Karadi Tales

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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