BELLA'S RULES

As one might guess from the title, boisterous Bella’s rules are in serious conflict with the family rules.

Bella’s rules: candy for breakfast, no washing your hair, ever, except with mud shampoo, and…there is no such thing as bedtime! Family rules include boring things such as no yelling indoors, no painting on paintings and no scaling the bookcase. Bella’s rules seem irrefutable, particularly to her kind but wimpy baby sitter Sammy, whom she terrifies with her wild behavior and who resorts to begging her to behave and go to bed. The indefatigable Bella gets her own way with everything, and her long-suffering parents are at their wits’ end. Until Granny pays a visit and brings with her a game-changer—an adorable puppy that breaks as many rules as his young charge and puts Bella in the unaccustomed role of having to introduce order into the chaos. Puppy’s behavior is even more wild, rude and risky than Bella’s. Ruining Bella’s favorite teddy is the last straw, and Bella sulks for a bit, until she starts to understand that by patiently teaching the puppy good behavior, obedience can actually be more rewarding than rebellion. The harmonious pairing of Guest’s simple but lively text with Halpin’s whimsical illustrations charms. Dialogue is represented in free-floating type that dances with nicely paced vignettes and page turns.

A winner. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3393-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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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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