An uncomplicated tale of consideration and cooperation rendered in an accessible format.

READ REVIEW

DON'T EAT THAT

How do you teach a grown bear new tricks?

An intrepid young bird-watcher in pursuit of a Scouting merit badge decides to help a bear find a snack in this whimsical tale. “DON’T EAT THAT!!!” Gertie explodes when she sees it about to chomp on a rock. Thanks to frontmatter illustrations, readers know what she does not: The bear has been dropped off by the city zoo and so doesn’t know how to function in the woods. Comic-strip panels alternate with full- or double-page spreads, with the text largely confined to dialogue bubbles, while cartoony Photoshop illustrations carry most of the story. Basic efforts at communication between the two prove problematic, and the bear’s lack of woods savvy (it tries to eat a skunk) and skills (it can’t swim) don’t help either. Puns abound as multiple efforts by the protagonist fail to come to fruition. The two end up far from happy, and Gertie starts to realize that her help may not be so helpful after all. Surely they can work together so that it can learn to fill its tummy! While there is little wholly original here, the messages of friendship and teamwork are portrayed nicely, the minimal text will appeal to reluctant readers, and youngsters will come away with a chuckle. Gertie has blonde hair and pale skin.

An uncomplicated tale of consideration and cooperation rendered in an accessible format. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-99729-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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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