At points, this book is hilariously funny, but for those who aren’t fans of wordplay, this might be a pun-ishing read.

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ANIMALICIOUS

A QUIRKY ABC BOOK

The late author and her collaborators create, combine, and reimagine a batch of spirited new animals from A to Z.

Packed full of invented punny and portmanteau animalgamations such as the “kangarude,” a golden marsupial with tongue out and eyes narrowed, cavalierly kicking over the letter K, the book presents a bevy of oddball beasts to accompany each letter. Every critter has its own unorthodox name, look, or point of emphasis in the word, such as the blushing, naked “polar bare” or a “lobster” that lobs an L. Readers will smirk at many of the funny combinations, but the humor is hard-won, as deciphering the clever names and underlying meanings, while supremely satisfying, is also labor-intensive. Those with more sophisticated vocabularies may fully parse the names, but obscure references, such as the “macawbre,” a macaw dressed in a Poe-inspired coat, will likely fly right over many readers’ heads. Using the letters as props for their antics, wildly peculiar, primitively drawn animals dash across the page, setting a zany tone. The potent primary colors, scribbly, smudgy textures, and lack of outlines constraining the creatures all contribute to the free-wheeling feel. Boldt’s images, such as a “hippotomess” surrounded by melted ice-cream and fast food wrappers, give useful clues about how to interpret the animal’s name.

At points, this book is hilariously funny, but for those who aren’t fans of wordplay, this might be a pun-ishing read. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9205-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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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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