Considering the real-world 24-hour news cycle, these ursine antics amid the stars make for oddly comforting reading.

ALIEN ALERT

From the Breaking News series

In space, no one can hear you party.

Punctuating his story with special news reports complete with crawl feeds, Biedrzycki returns to the form that served him so well in Bear Alert (2014) and Bears to the Rescue (2016). Here, our three bear heroes find themselves unexpectedly sucked into a UFO along with a strange assortment of wildlife as well as farm and zoo animals. The action then cuts between the experiences of the startled creatures and the frenzied Channel 3 News reports for the people back on Earth. When at last the aliens land and discharge their guests, it becomes clear that these space denizens are more akin to Close Encounters of the Third Kind folks than Independence Day meanies: All the disembarking creatures sport goody bags from a birthday party that was truly out of this world (as memorialized on the rear endpapers). Rather surprisingly, the TV-news format feels fresh as ever, and Biedrzycki knows how to use its storytelling tropes to the book’s best advantage. His Adobe Photoshop illustrations keep the action hopping and include such contemporary touches as smartphones and chyrons even as old-fashioned test patterns and a predigital TV (with cable box atop) make an occasional appearance.

Considering the real-world 24-hour news cycle, these ursine antics amid the stars make for oddly comforting reading. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-804-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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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

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