Both text and art evoke the best of Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts,” with a 21st-century, environmentalist twist.

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BUG OFF!

A STORY OF FIREFLIES AND FRIENDSHIP

Lessons about friendship and inclusion complement lessons about insects and bugs when Maude tries to join Louise’s Bug-of-the-Month Club.

Maude is new to country life, and she is fascinated and delighted to see her first lightning bugs. “They sparkle like little firecrackers,” she says, “but without all the noise.” Maude is undaunted when she learns that the first step to auditioning for neighbor Louise’s club is to prepare a speech about a bug. She happily researches fireflies at the library and presents a well-researched speech to Louise and the other club members. From the start, only Louise acts cool toward Maude. That coolness evolves into hostility when Louise insists that the other members list all the reasons that fireflies are not technically bugs…and then summarily releases Maude’s 11 coddled fireflies. Sweet-natured Maude channels her anger at Louise into an inspired campaign to protect fireflies, and by the end of the story, even Louise has become an ardent champion of the cause. This is more an illustrated story than a picture book, with a text chock full of fascinating facts about fireflies and how to help them. The cartoonlike children exhibit various skin tones, hair types, and eye shapes, and they are set against uncluttered, pleasant outdoor backgrounds; Maude has beige skin and extremely curly brown hair while Louise’s skin is pale and her blonde hair is straight.

Both text and art evoke the best of Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts,” with a 21st-century, environmentalist twist. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-38062-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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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