HUMPHREY'S REALLY WHEELY RACING DAY

From the Humphrey's Tiny Tales series , Vol. 1

New readers will be “HAPPY-HAPPY-HAPPY” to see this promising new series.

Humphrey, the classroom hamster, is back, this time in a new series for chapter-book readers.

Newly-independent readers are in for a treat with these stories of Humphrey’s adventures on the weekends. Each Friday afternoon, the suspense builds for the little hamster hero as he finds out where his temporary home will be. In this first outing, Humphrey goes home with Mandy (nicknamed Don’t-Complain-Mandy-Payne) and makes friends with her pet hamster, Winky. Winky has a hamster car, propelled by a plastic hamster wheel, and Humphrey is impressed. He loves his own little ball, but it’s not nearly as fabulous as Winky’s car. When Mrs. Brisbane buys a car for Humphrey, the class decides to have a race day—Winky versus Humphrey, and Og, the class frog, versus George, the frog from another class. In the second story (publishing simultaneously), Humphrey’s Playful Puppy Problem, Humphrey goes home with Richie, who plans to use Humphrey in his science experiment. Humphrey has to fend off a too-loving puppy called Poppy and fix the experiment when the pup’s exuberance proves to be too much for it. Birney has created the kind of series that first- and second-grade readers will love. It’s set in school, the vocabulary is accessible, the font and spacing are generous, and the frequent illustrations tie the story together.

New readers will be “HAPPY-HAPPY-HAPPY” to see this promising new series. (Animal fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25201-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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FLY GUY PRESENTS: SHARKS

From the Fly Guy series

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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