The brilliant combination of art and text will capture the imaginations of both bibliophiles and less-than-enthusiastic...

READ REVIEW

WHERE ARE MY BOOKS?

When young Spencer’s beloved books begin to disappear, the boy devises a plan to catch the culprit (although not before suspecting his toddler sister).

Muted shades of purple, blue and pale green are the background colors for the appealing opening, in which Spencer—in narwhal-themed red pajamas—is cuddled up with his mother, stuffed narwhal toy tucked under his arm; his and his mother’s wide, comic-strip eyes focus on an open book. “Spencer loved books. His favorite bedtime book was Night-Night, Narwhal. Sometimes he read it aloud.” No doubt it’s the kind of read-aloud done by 4-year-olds who’ve heard their favorite story many times. When Night-Night Narwhal disappears, Spencer’s father reads him Tenacious Todd, but it doesn’t quite work for bedtime: “But Todd was a toad, and toads were amphibians, and amphibian books were supposed to be for right-after-lunch story time.” The humor and charm continue as more of Spencer’s books, which he keeps so carefully on his shelf, begin disappearing—even Send in the Clown Fish! Astute readers will notice tulip petals and screws replacing the confiscated codices. Although the thief’s identity may be suspected, no one will expect the funny, sweet and original ending. Fans of Mo Willems will especially appreciate the family dynamics and expressive artwork.

The brilliant combination of art and text will capture the imaginations of both bibliophiles and less-than-enthusiastic readers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6741-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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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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