Pip’s parting thought is a lesson for all: “Pip wondered what else someone as small as a mouse might know.” It’s...

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WHAT'S FOR BREAKFAST?

When an owl stops to consider the words of a mouse, it changes his point of view and improves his swooping skills.

Beware food that talks back! When Pip tries to swoop toward the base of the oak to scoop up a mouse for Rufus’ mush breakfast, he falls on Theodore the mouse instead. “That was more falling than swooping,” the rodent points out. It’s the beginning of a rather lengthy (for one that occurs between someone who is supposed to be catching dinner and someone who is meant to be dinner) conversation (and perhaps friendship). Theodore has given flying a lot of thought, and he shows Pip where he should practice his swooping—above the tallest trees where it’s windiest. Pip flies off with Theodore in his talons to test the hypothesis. Pip’s swooping—and Theodore’s ride—is glorious, the illustrations showing the two above gorgeous sunset scenery. At the end of the flight, though, Rufus’ hooting brings the two back to reality and the problem at hand. Luckily, Theodore has a solution to that as well. Cazet’s pictures have an old-fashioned aesthetic, but there is a somewhat jarring clash between the fairly realistic backgrounds and the cartoon characters. (Theodore’s front stoop, a tidy arched doorway at the base of an old oak tree, is darling, though.)

Pip’s parting thought is a lesson for all: “Pip wondered what else someone as small as a mouse might know.” It’s delightfully elastic, too, for readers encouraged to think beyond the animal kingdom. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17648-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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