A mawkish, unremarkable story.

THE SHARING PARTY

It’s fall, the apples are ripe, and Max Mouse, eager to have an Apple Party, plans to pick some from a tree in the clearing.

When Max and his friend Henry Hedgehog arrive, the apples are gone. To make matters worse, they discover that their friend Rico Dormouse took them all and doesn’t plan to share them. He picked them all by himself and, for that reason, claims the rights to them. Dejectedly, Max shuts himself into his home. His other friends join forces, deciding that they can have a party with other treats, such as pancakes and apricot lemonade, and they gather the ingredients to do so. Rico apologizes for his greed and shares his apples, so everyone gathers together for an apple pancake party. Much about this story is excessively sweet and sentimental. Many of the animals’ names are cutesily alliterative; Max sprinkles sugar on pancakes at their party and calls it Friendship Powder (“with friendship powder, everything we eat together tastes even sweeter”); the animals sing a song about how sharing is “fun to do”; and sobbing Henry must be convinced that he has something to contribute to the party. The illustrations of these anthropomorphic creatures in muted shades also tend toward preciousness; the animals are all diminutive with button noses (or beaks). Even the book’s title typeface is exceptionally bouncy and cute. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.5-by-17.4-inch double-page spreads viewed at 94.2% of actual size.)

A mawkish, unremarkable story. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-6626-5007-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minedition

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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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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