Be prepared for leash requests—so convincing is this guidebook. Teachers may also appreciate it as a humorous model when...

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HOW TO WALK AN ANT

Some children have lemonade stands; the protagonist in this debut promotes ant-walking tours.

Young entrepreneur Amariyah has paper-white skin, a lanky mop of scribbly black hair, and a crooked smile. Copies of this how-to guide are stacked near her booth. The nine-step process, elucidated with tips and rules, makes up the majority of the narrative, starting with finding an ant and introducing yourself: “Don’t be antsy. Ants can smell fear with their ANTennae.” Irregularly formed headings and text look like a child’s writing, adding to the handmade aesthetic. Gray watercolor washes—sometimes fleshed out with trees or buildings—form the backdrop, with spots of color highlighting important details such as the Expert Walker’s chartreuse dress and her grandmother’s magenta nails. Some sections include footnotes that refer to appendices, where readers can learn actual ant anatomy in order to avoid harmful leash placement. At the climax, several spreads reveal what happens when an ant-walker and a ladybug-walker (also paper-white, with spiky black ponytails) become entangled in a colorful snarl of threads: ice cream, friendship, and an insect funeral are elements of the aftermath. Luckily, the backmatter also covers respectful burials. While not everyone will be drawn to the gray palette, the occasional sense of emptiness, and the disheveled caricatures, budding entomologists (and plenty of regular kids) will delight in the focus on these commonly seen insects.

Be prepared for leash requests—so convincing is this guidebook. Teachers may also appreciate it as a humorous model when explaining elements of informational text.   (appendices, glossary) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-16262-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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