Wry text and witty illustrations make for one enjoyable math lesson.

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WHO EATS FIRST?

A giraffe, a rhino, a rabbit, a monkey, an alligator and a caterpillar all come upon a peach that has fallen to the ground and have a discussion—and a competition—as to which of them should get the first bite.

While this Korean import is promoted as a math story illustrating the concepts of comparing, sorting and measuring, it is also an attractive picture book, with quite nifty illustrations that look like watercolor with fabric collage. It also displays a sly sense of humor in its uncredited translation. Giraffe, of course, thinks the first bite should go to the tallest one, while Gator thinks it should go to the one with the biggest mouth, and Monkey thinks it should be the animal with the longest tail. The key to the winner, however, lies in the endpapers, which feature the animal that is always first no matter which way the measuring goes. The characters mostly sit or stand up like human children, and some even wear bits of clothing. Short exercises and lessons further explaining the concepts end the book. The peach, which appears on many of the pages, is a luscious pink-and-gold masterpiece that definitely looks good enough to eat.

Wry text and witty illustrations make for one enjoyable math lesson. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-939248-00-8

Page Count: 38

Publisher: TanTan

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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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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