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ALIEN ALERT

From the Breaking News series

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

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. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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