A story that may encourage readers to be writers, too.

AMY THE RED PANDA IS WRITING THE BEST STORY IN THE WORLD

A paean to playfulness and following one’s own vision as essential to creativity.

In this follow-up to Mervin the Sloth Is About to Do the Best Thing in the World (2016), the eponymous red panda attempts to write a story. A bevy of animals (who’ll be familiar to readers of the prior title) helpfully offer ideas, but their onslaught of input ends up paralyzing poor Amy rather than inspiring her. Chan’s crowded, cartoon-style illustrations contribute to the depiction of this less-than-supportive environment as the repeated main text (the words of the title) is overwhelmed by a mounting crowd of animals with speech-balloon suggestions while Amy cowers to the side. Beside her is calm and quiet Mervin, who ultimately offers a playful solution to the conundrum Amy faces: in a metafictive turn, after a gazelle bumps loose the letter O from the word “world,” he tosses it about. Distraught Amy is initially oblivious to his playful gestures, but when she catches on she’s eager to join him in a “LETTER FIGHT!!!” In perhaps an underwhelming payoff on the title’s promise, their fun inspires Amy to retrieve some of the fallen letters and write “Amy and Mervin had a fun day” as her “best story in the world.”

A story that may encourage readers to be writers, too. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-233848-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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