It may not be, as Mole says at the end, "pure platinum," but it's not too far off. (Picture book. 4-8)

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ROCK 'N' ROLL MOLE

When a friend’s in need, sometimes it does come down to “Just do it,” as one little mole learns.

That’s the big-hearted, selfless message in Crimi’s tale of Mole, the budding rock star who turns into jelly at the prospect of being on stage. In his bedroom he’s all swagger, like Mick Badger, and his friend Pig has witnessed his stuff. When Pig decides to put on a talent show, Mole reluctantly agrees to play but then cancels. Pig’s disappointed, though he doesn’t chide his friend. Then Pig finds himself in the lurch when his iPod breaks, and Mole comes to the rescue, taming the collywobbles by taking himself out of the picture and just doing it, because his friend needs him to. In this best of all worlds, Mole doesn’t crash and burn but smokes ’em with his blazing guitar. Despite all the anxiety floating around, Crimi keeps her touch light; doing the right thing becomes a vehicle for overcoming the sweats. She draws Mole as such a sympathetic soul that it’s easy to identify with his case of nerves and just as easy to feel uplift in his act. By now, one almost takes the prolific Munsinger’s happy-go-lucky artwork for granted, but that would be a crime. Her illustrations show their usual bonhomie, but they are also warm as a nest, somewhere to soothe worries away.

It may not be, as Mole says at the end, "pure platinum," but it's not too far off. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3166-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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