This one could work as a read-aloud, child to adult, with lots of pictorial details to notice and talk about. A sweet,...

BOY, BIRD, AND DOG

From the I Like To Read series

Boy has a small adventure in a tree house with Bird and Dog.

It involves ingenuity and determination, as Boy finds a way, with Bird’s help, to get Dog up into the tree house, employing a pot and a rope and teamwork. It all happens with kindness and gratitude and mom’s cookies. The story is told in the sparest of language, with a base of 47 different, frequently repeated words, arranged in the simplest of sentences. Although it is part of an early-reader series, it doesn’t feel like a textbook primer, nor does it condescend to emergent readers. It reads smoothly with a clear plot, likable characters and an interesting setting. The text appears in large print at either the top or bottom of each page. McPhail’s signature watercolor-and-ink illustrations are large scale with soft edges. The action and characters are well defined and appealing, and Boy’s facial expressions depict his imaginative thought processes and exertions, as well as the joy of a successful outcome. Even Dog and Bird manage to convey appropriate emotions with just a slight change in the snout, beak or eyes, or angle of their bodies.

This one could work as a read-aloud, child to adult, with lots of pictorial details to notice and talk about. A sweet, gentle charmer. (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2346-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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