A cleverly solved mystery that will get kids using their noggins.

DEDUCTIVE DETECTIVE

With a combination of clues and logic, the Deductive Detective solves the case of Fox’s stolen cake.

Detective Duck determines that one of the 12 bakers in the cake contest is the thief. He’ll “find clues that will subtract each suspect until there is just one left.” The fact that Mouse’s itty-bitty cake is the largest she can carry eliminates her from the list. Duck crosses her name off his notepad, and a subtraction problem on the page shows that 12 suspects – 1 mouse = 11 suspects. Rooster was busy crowing at the time of the crime, and a few hairs at the scene provide evidence that Swan is not the thief. The trail leads to the kitchen, up onto a counter, out a smallish window and into a tree, therefore making the only suspect left…. Tongue-in-cheek wordplay and puns liven up the text: Pig quips, “Nothing good ever happens when I’m bakin’.” The only odd step is the reasoning behind Horse’s dismissal—the lights were out, and Horse “would never go into a dark room alone.” Rogers’ anthropomorphized animals walk on their hind legs and wear clothes, though many are quite realistic looking. Facial expressions are a bit hit-or-miss, but the body language makes up for that. Two pages of activities invite readers to test their deductive reasoning with a list of questions and to compare/contrast the attributes of the 12 suspects.

A cleverly solved mystery that will get kids using their noggins. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60718-613-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sylvan Dell

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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