From Spain via Québec, an amusing, intriguing, enticing visual whodunit.

THE CHICKENTOWN MYSTERY

The mysterious disappearance of hens threatens Chickentown’s annual Golden Feather competition.

Hens are treated like “beloved members of every family” in Chickentown, where each year one hen is honored with the coveted Best Hen of the Year award. Several days before the competition, Mrs. Sillyfeather’s hen, Scarlett, vanishes, mysterious footprints in her bedroom the only clue. Then the Fairbeak hen, Gwendolyn, disappears, her wing chair raked by claws. Next Rufina Cluckaday goes missing, clumps of reddish fur left behind, followed the next night by Clarabelle Spatchcock after a strange shadow appears in her bedroom. Chickentown’s “resident witch,” Miss Henrietta, devises a plan to trap the culprit. After Miss Henrietta feeds her own hen, Lucinda, a luminous magic star, the bird shines “with the glow of a thousand lights.” Waiting until a fox shockingly appears and absconds with brave Lucinda, Miss Henrietta follows the trail of light her hen emits. Miss Henrietta finds the four missing hens unharmed—but no fox in sight. While the text neglects to explain what has really happened, a close study of the clue-laden illustrations reveals the strange, unexpected answer to the Chickentown mystery. Rendered in precise outlines, fascinating patterns, and explosive color washes, the detailed, eccentric illustrations definitely are worth discerning examination. Not only do they offer clues to the cunning culprit’s identity and motive, but they also delight with sly humor, memorable hens, and a fabulous witch (who presents White and has a head of bushy red hair).

From Spain via Québec, an amusing, intriguing, enticing visual whodunit. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-2-89802-274-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: CrackBoom! Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more