Visually clever and verbally unusual.

MARCEL THE SHELL

THE MOST SURPRISED I'VE EVER BEEN

Philosophical univalve Marcel returns in this sequel to Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2011).

Speaking in a chatty first person, Marcel opens with visual close-ups of his distinctive red-and-white sneakers and his single giant eye, followed by a total body shot and the news that he’s feeling “pretty good about” himself. Unsure what each new day will bring, Marcel describes the day he “got the most surprised,” after suddenly finding himself tossed into the air while walking on a blanket and thinking about how much he loves cake. Time stands still as the airborne Marcel notices everything in the room below: the rug, a sneaker, the baby and his grandmother’s house. Momentarily suspended midair, Marcel thinks about his grandmother and the importance of beauty, comparing his weightless state to an astronaut’s. As he descends, Marcel admits he’s scared, recalling other events when he felt powerless: a paper airplane crashing, the baby’s first word, exploding popcorn. Subsequent to his fortuitous sweet landing atop a three-layer cake, Marcel concludes this day “took the cake.” Blurred illustrations reminiscent of airbrushed color photographs transform Marcel’s seemingly minor experience into a life-changing drama. Close-ups and aerial views allow readers to share the diminutive mollusk’s perspective and wonder at his self-reflective aplomb.

Visually clever and verbally unusual. (Picture book. 5 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59514-456-0

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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