There is a lesson about true friendship here, but the action-figure moves muddy the message

AWESOME!

Heroism threatens a friendship.

Marvin the moose and Woody the beaver are introduced as “best friends,” but their friendship is stretched thin after Marvin uses his antlers to save another animal from drowning and becomes “a local hero.” At first, Woody is a fan, as he fashions a red cape that Marvin, now “AWESOME FOR HIRE,” will sport in his new superhero business venture as one who is “brave, caring ANDunderstanding.” Unfortunately, the more Marvin grows in fame and stature (there’s even a statue in his honor), the more Woody is consumed by jealousy. Things quickly swirl out of control for Woody as he makes one bad move after another, causing injury and mayhem in the forest. Fortunately, all ends well as Woody performs a rescue of his own and a new statue is erected (featuring Marvin’s head on top of Woody’s, this looks somewhat like a totem pole). Shuttlewood adds little to the canon of picture-book tales of friendship, and the extreme measures to which the beaver resorts (theft, bullying, and assault) for attention may raise eyebrows. The cartoon-style illustrations are colorful but very busy, and the pages are often filled to overbrimming with creatures of the forest.

There is a lesson about true friendship here, but the action-figure moves muddy the message . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-013-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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