An artful curiosity and perhaps a challenge for writing units, but not a great picture book.

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WINGS

In a narrative told with just 12 rhyming words and dePaola’s bright collages, a fledgling takes its first flight.

“Wings!” the text proclaims as the chubby pink bird stretches its pinions. But: “Clings,” it continues as the little bird looks down, claws gripping the nest. The bird “flings” itself out, then tumbles and falls into a puddle (“stings”), “wrings” itself dry, inspects its bruises (or “dings”), gazes at some “things” (a snail and some worms), one of which it resolves to “bring” back to the nest. It “springs” back into the air, “sings” in triumph, flies in “rings” through the air, and “zings” with its nest mates up to two parent birds. While it’s a complete arc, the book feels more like a stunt than a story. Limiting the text to one-syllable “ing” words results in the not-really-apropos “stings” when the bird crash-lands, the at-first-inscrutable “dings” (children and adults alike will wonder where the dinging sound is coming from before the adult readers recall its alternate meaning), and the flabby “things.” DePaola’s illustrations too often fail to pick up the slack: The bird shakes the water off rather than “wring[ing]” itself dry; depicting the singular conjugation “sings” are the three nest mates with beaks open and the protagonist, its beak clamped shut on a worm—just who is singing?

An artful curiosity and perhaps a challenge for writing units, but not a great picture book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0510-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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