In the words of Motor Mouse himself, “QUITE ACCEPTABLE”—actually, more than quite.

MOTOR MOUSE

Pie, cake, ice cream, popcorn, and bowling only hint at the pleasures to be found in three effervescent little stories.

Motor Mouse is a hardworking rodent, and when it comes to his downtime, he certainly knows how to relax. In “The Friday Cake Day” a catastrophic inaccessibility of delights (read: a closed cake shop) leads to new vistas as the titular hero and his friend Telly (an otter) discover the wide and wonderful world of pie. In “Going for a Look-About,” Motor Mouse cedes driving control to a raccoon cabbie so that he can take his eyes off the road for once. Finally, in “Front Row at the Picture Show,” a long-standing grudge involving a popcorn-hogging brother comes to a head with satisfactory results. Rylant’s grasp of succinct storytelling is on full display. Wry understatement (the pie is deemed by Motor Mouse and Telly to be “QUITE ACCEPTABLE,” while an arrangement whereby two brothers share a single bucket of popcorn “had not worked for years. And it was not working this Saturday, either”) creates memorable characters with minimal syllables. Howard’s art too, honed on the author’s 27 Mr. Putter & Tabby books, deftly balances heart, humor, and the occasional magnificent burst of pathos.

In the words of Motor Mouse himself, “QUITE ACCEPTABLE”—actually, more than quite. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9126-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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