THE SCALLYWAGS

Readers may barely notice the plot here for the glorious chaos in the pictures. Fed up at last when the Scallywags, a big and wildly rambunctious family of wolves, tumble in to ruin a group photo, a sedate community of animals gives them the cold shoulder. Happily, the ostracism turns out to be only temporary. At least mildly repentant, the Scallywags characteristically overdo efforts to clean up their act, and turn into obnoxious prigs—whereupon everyone is happy to see them revert to form as soon as the full moon appears. Melling keeps every figure busy in his populous rustic settings, rewarding close examination with hilarious glimpses of hyperactive wolves learning new, sometimes gross, uses for a toothbrush, clothing, cologne and other tokens of gentility in between scenes filled with flying food and bodies. Closing with a helter-skelter picnic and a messy gathering for another try at a photo, this quick and crazy woodland episode will have children howling for repeats. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-7641-5991-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2006

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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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