A gentle, empathetic tribute to the value of reaching out to welcome a new friend.

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ON THE NIGHT OF THE SHOOTING STAR

Bunny and Dog live solitary, parallel lives in adjacent homes until their shared glimpse of a shooting star engenders a new and steadfast friendship.

Each tidy lakeside home, separated by a fence, is appointed with décor that reflects its inhabitant. Bunny’s house—blue, like her—contains such lapine accoutrements as rabbit-shaped salt-and-pepper shakers and a framed portrait of three carrots. Bunny ears pop up often: on the loft bed’s headboard, the lamp, and the cocoa cups. Sharp-eyed kids might notice the reading chair’s fluffy white “tail.” Dog’s abode is similarly cozy in his signature red, with a portable radio, a rug woven with a border of dogs, and a goodly supply of biscuits. As the animals engage in solo pursuits, from knitting (Dog) and drawing (Bunny) to cultivating twin gardens, they steal furtive glances at each other. Sleepless and outdoors on a moonlit night, each deduces that the other needs a friend. Their mutual, ephemeral experience—witnessing the shooting star—fuels their new relationship, as they share meals and pastimes together. Hest’s gentle subtext seems to say, “Life is short. Engage; connect.” Desmond’s mixed-media illustrations juxtapose simply rendered animals, charming household details, and lovely full-bleed expanses of starry sky and moonlit lake.

A gentle, empathetic tribute to the value of reaching out to welcome a new friend. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9154-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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