Cheerful and modestly informative, this will be most appreciated where these crabs are familiar.

DOES A FIDDLER CRAB FIDDLE?

Silly questions and straightforward answers make up this visual and verbal introduction to the fiddler crab.

A spoonful of sugar makes facts sticky. Here, alternating pages ask a question in the form of a joke and answer it with a factual statement about fiddler crabs, common residents of the sand and mudflats, especially along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The authors cover important characteristics: their unequally sized claws, their habitat, their digging, breathing, eating, and senses, curious locomotion and regenerative abilities, and other protective adaptations. The humor is irresistible, and Sandford makes good use of it in his paintings. The opening, titular question is illustrated with a top-hatted crab playing a violin. Later, readers see crabs with hard hats building in sand, crabs with chef’s hats making pizza, crabs with sunglasses, skateboards, knitting needles, hockey sticks, and more. The pacing is good; the questions and answers often involve a page turn, but some scenes get (and deserve) double-page spreads. This simple overview does not point out that it is only the male who has "one enormous claw." In the text, he "breathes air," but the backmatter states that these crabs "breathe through gills, which they must keep moist." In fact, they do both.

Cheerful and modestly informative, this will be most appreciated where these crabs are familiar. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943978-03-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Persnickety Press

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Chilling in the best ways.

CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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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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