Bright in mood, message, and hue, this is a winner.

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RAD!

With moral support and practice, anything is possible!

Skate! says Esther. / Stoked? says Chester. / Totally! say Hester and Sylvester. / Never, says Lester.” At the Beachside Skate Park, four cats are excited to use their skateboards, but one gray kitty is not. It seems Lester thinks skateboarding is “scary.” The other kitties gently cajole Lester to give it a try and practice. They pop a helmet on their reluctant companion’s head and say, “Please”—but when Lester says, “no” again, they roll into the park and have a “RAD!” time while Lester peers over the wall at them. When Lester concedes, “Maybe,” the others enthusiastically respond with “awesome,” “gnarly,” and “cool!” Lester doesn’t succeed the first time, but the four skateboarding veterans encourage the wobbly cat, and they all celebrate when Lester finally prevails. Everyone has a great time. Then Lester sees some surfers and suggests they try that tomorrow—but: “No, no, no, no way! say Esther, Chester, Hester, and Sylvester.” Bustard’s story is told entirely in her characters’ one-word exclamations and dialogue tags, using type style rather than quotation marks to denote their speech. It’s easy to follow, as Wiseman’s cartoons supply an unmistakable visual narrative. Cartoon kitties of various colors in helmets and streetwear skate in a park decorated in bright graffiti. Young listeners will identify with Lester’s fears and will soon be able to read the story on their own; as Chester says: “Righteous!”

Bright in mood, message, and hue, this is a winner. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4101-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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