As the only large-format edition of this carol currently in print, it will be a useful purchase for use with children at...

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THE FRIENDLY BEASTS

The familiar, old English carol using the voices of the animals approaching the Nativity scene serves as the text in this attractively illustrated, large-format version.

Each of the animals contributes something, from the donkey who carried Mary to Bethlehem to the cow who gave up manger and hay to the sheep who provided wool for a blanket for the Christ Child. The dove who cooed the baby to sleep is a recurrent connecting device, appearing in the stable window on several pages and in flight on the endpapers, which show a contemporary scene of a snowy village with carolers surrounding a glowing Christmas tree. The illustrations convey accurate details in settings and costumes as well as amusing expressions on the faces of the friendly animals, but the cover design is diminished by an unnecessary coating of silvery-blue glitter on the animals. A large trim size provides illustrations large enough for use with a group, and the musical notation is provided along with a CD with spoken and sung versions of the text.

As the only large-format edition of this carol currently in print, it will be a useful purchase for use with children at Christmas sing-alongs or church programs as well as at home. (Picture book/religion. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-310-72012-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zondervan

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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