Oddly incongruent to the Kissing Hand (1993) premise—fans of the original will likely be perplexed, though it does present a...

CHESTER RACCOON AND THE ALMOST PERFECT SLEEPOVER

From the Kissing Hand series

Chester Raccoon faces a new childhood anxiety in the latest addition to the Kissing Hand series.

A sleepover at Pepper Opossum’s tree has Chester Raccoon excited. But it is not called an “overnight,” because these animals are nocturnal. Instead, Chester is going on an “overday.” (Sometimes wordplay can be more confusing than clever.) When Chester and his mother reach the Opossums’ tree, she places the requisite kiss in the palm of his hand, curls his fingers around it, and leaves him feeling safe and loved. The entire day is spent romping and playing as only woodland friends can—hanging by tails in trees, throwing darts made from porcupine quills and acorns, and splashing in the creek. The tale, punctuated by purple-colored “stinky puffs” from Sassafras Skunk, meanders realistically, until the creatures are tuckered out. When they all start yawning, everyone burrows in Pepper Opossum’s den to sleep. Everyone but Chester. Apparently, his mother’s Kissing Hand makes him feel safe, but it is not powerful enough to keep him from being homesick. Mrs. Opossum is kindly understanding, and a neighboring rabbit hops him back to his own hollow. An out-of-place poem muddles the end; it’s not a rhyme that will help kids address their own worries but, instead, simply a recap of the story.

Oddly incongruent to the Kissing Hand (1993) premise—fans of the original will likely be perplexed, though it does present a familiar childhood dilemma without shaming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-939100-11-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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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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