The silliness still feels fresh, even in Chico’s fourth outing.

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MONKEY WITH A TOOL BELT AND THE MANIAC MUFFINS

From the Monkey With a Tool Belt series

Runaway muffins attack the town! Can Chico Bon Bon, the titular monkey with the tool belt, get them back and help Clark with his pancake party?

Chico's pal Clark is something of a disaster in the kitchen. His giant pancake is so heavy that it causes the kitchen table to collapse. Broken dishes and syrup are everywhere, but the elephant cook is unfazed. “They’re very dense,” he says calmly. Clark is prepping for a party to celebrate Uncle Bill’s graduation from hotel management school, and Chico is eager to help, his tool belt full of cool kitchen gadgetry and cleaning gizmos. Clark is also working on a gooey lemon pudding and his “supersecret blueberry muffins.” But his recipe is rather…explosive. It blows the door of the oven, and the muffins wreak havoc in the kitchen before bursting through the front door and terrorizing the town. Chico chases after them before coming up with an ingenious plan. It involves the pancakes, the lemon pudding, and, of course, the tools in his belt. Chico saves the town, then enjoys the party. Monroe’s impish illustrations are busy with delightful touches—Chico’s kitchen-specific tool belt, complete with “thermometer with bling” and “butter splapper” is particularly terrific—and her deadpan humor should please adults as well as kids.

The silliness still feels fresh, even in Chico’s fourth outing. (recipes) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2155-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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