MOON BEAR

With a series of questions and haiku-like answers, Guiberson (Ice Bears, 2008) introduces young readers and listeners to bears from a far-off place. “Who plucks raspberries / and plops red scat in the tangle? Blissful moon bear, / feasting on juicy summer fruit.” While much of her alliterative text focuses on the Asian Moon Bear’s varied diet, the narrative covers a year in which one bear emerges in spring, forages uphill and down and hibernates again, producing cubs. Collages of textured papers, parts of photographs and varied backgrounds form the stylized illustrations. Some of the bear’s white neck stripes form human silhouettes, and Young uses bear silhouettes in his endpapers. Though the art is impressive, some images are confusing, distracting from rather than supporting the text. A two-page author’s note doesn’t mention the bile industry directly but describes bears in cages and shows photographs of rescued bears happily playing at the Animals Asia Moon Bear Rescue Center in China. A website is included but not sources or additional information. Tempting but not nutritious. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 11, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8977-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2010

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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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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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