A charming workout.

READ REVIEW

SHAKE THE TREE!

A MINIBOMBO BOOK

A hungry mouse gets more than she bargained for when she tries to shake loose a tasty nut in Vignocchi, Chiarinotti, and Borando’s debut collaboration.

Opening vertically to emphasize the tree’s impressive height, the first spread of this energetic picture book shows a small mouse looking up longingly at a nut high in a tree. Hungry, she declares her intentions to “gobble [it] up” and starts to shake the tree this way and that until at last down from the tree falls…a hungry fox. No sooner does it land than it exclaims that it is going to gobble up the little mouse (as foxes do). The mouse scurries up the tree in fright, and the fox begins to shake it until down tumbles…a hungry warthog. And on the pattern goes, with frightened prey hiding in the tree and hungry predators giving it a shake only to dislodge a bigger, hungrier animal. The three co-authors have delivered a delightful narrative, full of comically narrow escapes, and Borando returns with her smooth styling and fresh, uncluttered spreads that bring visual humor and irony that hold right through till the final page. The book’s design requires readers to turn the book as the layout keeps shifting from vertical to horizontal, and while readers end up mimicking all the tree shaking in the narrative, the effect is a little wearing.

A charming workout. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9488-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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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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