SNAIL CROSSING

Why did the snail cross the road? Cabbage. How? That’s another story.

While “scooting around” one day, Snail spots a field of scrumptious cabbage on the other side of a dangerous road. The self-assured gastropod approaches the obstacle with a can-do attitude: “Well, you won’t stop me!” After traveling for some time—and generating a glistening trail of slime—Snail decides to take a break. Just then, a vehicle in the distance zooms closer. Snail narrowly avoids it. Further perils and delays arise, but the “cabbage bound” hero slimes his way out of them all. Despite all the stress, Snail keeps it kind: He invites a “troop of rowdy ants” inside his shell (and his vintage-decorated living room) to take shelter from the rain. But between the tea and other distractions, will Snail ever make it to his lunch? Though snail-centric, Tabor’s story is far from snail’s pace: Deft shifts between double- and single-page spreads and other visual cues heighten the drama of the fraught adventure. The cartoon illustrations digitally combine pencil, watercolor, and ink to create beautiful textures. Careful readers may see a visual mismatch between the more-detailed spreads and those set against a white background (e.g., how big is Snail’s shell home anyway?). Still, Tabor (of 2019 Geisel-winning Fox the Tiger fame) shines; his clever reversal of expectations will replace any skepticism with a fit of giggles.

A shell of a good time. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-287800-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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