THE PERFECT NEST

Jack the cat is building the perfect nest, bound to attract the perfect chicken that will lay the perfect egg to make the perfect omelet. But Jack’s plan hatches more than he expected. First a chicken, then a duck, then a goose, claims the nest, calls it perfect and refuses to leave. Cries of “FIRE!” “FLOOD!” and “WOLF” don’t budge their ruffled feathers, until Jack hints the next farm over has an even better nest. Fowl free, he thinks; Jack’s mouth waters in anticipation of an egg breakfast, lunch and dinner. But just as he reaches for the eggs, they hatch and immediately imprint on Jack as their father. To escape their peeping demands, he tries to hide, but the three fuzzy chicks find him and drag him back to the nest for warmth and sleep. Henpecked into a new paternal responsibility, Jack curls up with the chicks and realizes his nest is perfect. The gouache illustrations cluck with humor and details that add giggles: the face-on double spread of Jack in his bib overalls with whisk in one hand and spatula in the other; the wolf scene in which Jack wears a red riding hood; and Jack’s egg-yolk eyes. Perfect fine-feathered fun. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-7636-2430-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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