ENCHANTED LIONS

When the “sea is a maze of swirls” and the “night is ablaze with pearls,” Rose opens her shutters and discovers enchanted lions rising from the ocean to cavort on the sand. As one of the enchanted lions bounds into her room, Rose fearlessly climbs on his back and they “swoop through outer space,” past constellations Pegasus and Pisces. Racing with the unicorn Monoceros, they “jump-rope crescent moons, hopscotch asteroids” and are rescued from a black hole by the stellar whale Cetus. Safely back home, Rose and her enchanted lion rub noses before she tucks in for the night with her kitty. Greenberg’s cadenced, rhyming text relies on images of “cosmic suction cups,” “giant rafters holding everything in place” and “interstellar voids” to convey galactic timelessness and enormity. Using simple forms washed with the perfect palette of grainy midnight blues, sea greens and tawny yellows, Swarner’s luminous illustrations highlight Rose’s freeform romp with her very cuddly lion across a glorious star-studded cosmos of double-page spreads. An enchanting bedtime caper. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-525-47938-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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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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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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