A lovely story of using empathy to work through culture clashes.

THE MONSTER DETECTOR

From the Big Foot & Little Foot series , Vol. 2

Sasquatch Hugo and human Boone deal with monsters, stereotypes, and cultural misunderstandings in the follow-up to Big Foot and Little Foot (2018).

After three years spent collecting wrappers from Mad Marvin’s Monster Cards, Hugo has finally saved up enough to send in for a prize. What arrives is a wristwatch-style monster detector filled with weechie-weechie moths that will flap their wings noisily when monsters are near. Exploring Widdershins Cavern in search of monsters, the detector guides Hugo to a secret entrance to the Big Wide World—where green fur and bones indicate the presence of the Green Whistler, a creature rumored to eat young squidges like him. Meanwhile, home-schooled Boone turns up at the Academy for Curious Squidges, wanting to attend; while only one of the sasquatch kids is openly prejudiced against humans, Boone endures an escalating string of misunderstandings that’s ended only by another crisis—the reappearance of the Green Whistler. Budding cryptozoologists Boone and Hugo pursue only to discover one last misunderstanding and a family history of cross-species friendship. The sasquatch humor and heroes’ earnestness make for a compelling story with natural flow, and the turnabout scenarios in which white Boone operates as a minority among the sasquatches are thoughtfully done.

A lovely story of using empathy to work through culture clashes. (final art unseen) (Fantasy. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3122-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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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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