Again with the bats, evoking another call of “encore!” (Picture book. 4-8)

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BATS IN THE BAND

From the Bat Book series

Yet more bats tumble from Lies’ belfry, this time to ignite a darkened summer theater with the gift of music.

Lies, who has ushered bats through a night at the library, the beach and the ballpark, invites a colony into a playhouse after lights out. There, he carves out a piece of the small hours for his readers, that strange time of collywobbles and spooky quiet. The playhouse is anything but, as the bats have decided to light up the dark with “a little night music.” In tuneful couplets laced with fluid if demanding words like “sitar” and “improvise,” the bats get busy with jazz—is that Dizzy, with those cheeks?—and rock—is that Leon Russell, in Uncle Sam’s hat?—and a camellia-adorned bat woman with a broken heart: “Her feelings fill the room with blue,” a room that Lies has draped with indigo. The paintings are full of mood and spot-lit color, the bats upside down and right-side up, the rhyme both casual and emotive. There is no doubt that Lies has made an effort to please adult readers with plenty of allusions: In what passes as their dusk, a bat takes his fiddle to the roof. But the bats never fly over young readers’ heads. They are there to entertain, and that they do.

Again with the bats, evoking another call of “encore!” (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10569-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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