JANGLES

A BIG FISH STORY

A boy recalls his father’s pretty amazing story of the larger-than-life trout he nearly caught in this tall tale of a remarkably big fish that got away.

Everyone at Big Lake wanted to catch infamous Jangles, the “biggest fish anyone had ever seen.” Jangles earned his name from the metal lures and fishhooks embedded in his huge jaw that “clinked and clattered as he swam.” Locals believed Jangles was so big he could eat eagles and beavers, and some swore he’d saved a baby who fell into the lake. In the narrator’s father’s story of a boyhood encounter, Jangles swallows his lure and drags him underwater to a cave in the deepest part of the lake, where the fish talks and shares “secrets from the beginning of time” about Big Lake. But as Jangles returns him to the boat, the narrator’s father turns the tables by tricking and trapping Jangles. Arguing he is “more than a fish,” Jangles begs to be released, leaving the narrator’s father to decide his fate in a twist ending. Dramatic, realistic, full-color oil illustrations more than fill double-page spreads, accentuating the tale’s colloquial hyperbole. Action-packed close-ups capture the seemingly omniscient, omnipotent Jangles from arresting angles, allowing readers to feel they are front and center in this fantastic fishing fable. Some fish indeed! (Picture book. 4-8) 

 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-14312-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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