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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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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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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