PEGGONY-PO

A WHALE OF A TALE

A fearless young whaler leads a fearsome whale on a merry chase, triggering the Great Whale Bet of 1847. Monster whale Cetus “loved to smash boats” and “ate anything that got in his way.” When sailor Galleon Keene tries to harpoon Cetus, the whale snaps his boat and bites off his leg. Later, Galleon wishes for a son, and the boy he carves out of driftwood comes alive. Named Peggony-Po, the boy is “feisty as a kettle of just-caught fish.” He brags he will capture Cetus, and the ship’s crew bet on whether the cocky boy will succeed. Diving into the ocean, Peggony-Po holds onto the fierce Cetus with a seaweed harness. For three days, boy and whale circle the globe like a “traveling spectacle,” until Peggony-Po tricks Cetus. Dramatic swirling illustrations in bold blacks and blues accentuate the turbulent maritime action, showcasing tiny Peggony-Po astride giant Cerus. Reminiscent of tall-tale heroes like Pecos Bill and John Henry, Peggony-Po and his larger-than-life seafaring antics result in a rollicking Moby-Dick for the small set. (author’s note, glossary, further reading) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7868-1958-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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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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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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