Like the eponymous dish, this will whet limited appetites.

A BOOK FOR ESCARGOT

A Francophone snail struggles to find itself in a story.

Escargot, a cartoon snail in a blue-and-white–striped shirt, a red kerchief, and a black beret, immediately breaks the fourth wall, opening with: “Bonjour! I see you are reading a book. I will try not to distract you.” (The “you” here at the end is revealed to be a smiling black child holding a paintbrush. It’s all very meta.) Of course, what follows is a meandering distraction. Escargot first talks about different books “you” might like, then laments the lack of vibrant, positive snail representation in these stories. Escargot then brags about itself, imagining that “you” are addressing it: “The main character of a story must have a problem, Escargot! You are so handsome, suave, and smart. What problem could you possibly have?” (The proliferation of “you”s here, referring to very distinctly different “you”s, will pose a challenge to young readers not totally conversant with the conventions of dialogue.) The problem turns out to be that Escargot is tired of salads. The ensuing adventure involves finding a French cookbook, learning that snails could be on the menu, and deciding that the only way to save the day is to eat the cookbook. It’s barely even a story, and the annoyingly grandiose narrator is likely to lead non-Francophones to attempt a mocking French accent during read-alouds, an exhausting gag that tires itself out.

Like the eponymous dish, this will whet limited appetites. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-31286-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 35

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more