SLOW MOE

Young readers will love the moment when Moe turns from snail to human child.

A sweet harangue against the failings of little siblings everywhere.

They are too slow; they are too messy; they take away too much attention from everyone, especially parents. As the protagonist lists little brother Moe’s failings, he appears as a giant snail placidly spooning Cheerios one by one into his mouth and leaving an impressive trail of slime and discarded items in his wake. However, when adults are not around, younger siblings can be fun. It is when the protagonist is alone with Moe that his joyful, exuberant, human-self emerges. Kid Moe runs fast, and his favorite game is tag. He also plays basketball and hopscotch, jumps rope, and climbs the monkey bars. The book is filled with wonderful details: Mom’s raised eyebrows, Dad’s striped socks and no shoes, and the protagonist’s fiercely crossed arms. Slow Moe the snail takes up at least a quarter of the couch, and the stairway carpet drips through the railings (or is that more slime?). Lent Roland, the French edition, publishes simultaneously, and Rachel Martinez’s translation offers some delights absent from the original, such as the title character’s contrast with his 11th-century literary forebear. In either language, the title character reminds readers that we are different people depending upon whom we are with and that familial relationships are complex and simple at the same time. Characters appear to be white.

Young readers will love the moment when Moe turns from snail to human child. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2352-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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HEY, DUCK!

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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