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

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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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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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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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