Still, this sweet family story stands alone and should attract new fans.

VIOLET MACKEREL'S NATURAL HABITAT

From the Violet Mackerel series , Vol. 3

Seven-year-old Violet’s Theory of Helping Small Things doesn’t work out well for a ladybug, but it does inspire her big sister Nicola’s successful natural science project.

In this third in a series of Australian imports starring this appealing, inventive child, Violet turns her attention to small creatures: a sparrow in the shopping center and an undersized ladybug from the colony living under the fennel in the garden. Though Small Gloria doesn’t survive in the habitat Violet builds, the beetle is appropriately honored in her sister’s model of ladybug habitats, as well as being buried and remembered in a simple ceremony. A new verse for “These are a Few of My Favorite Things” helps to provide closure. The death of animals, whether through accidents or of natural causes, often weighs heavily on children, and this deceptively simple early chapter book takes such concerns seriously without getting stuck there. Each short chapter is a complete event, but readers will be led on by their need to know what happens next. The finished book will include black-and-white illustrations (not seen) and the distinctively designed chapter numbers (they look like they’ve been knit out of yarn) of previous titles. Readers who met Violet earlier will feel right at home.

Still, this sweet family story stands alone and should attract new fans. (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3594-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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Hee haw.

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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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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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