This is one haunted farm readers won’t want to skip.

READ REVIEW

THE MYSTERY OF THE HAUNTED FARM

Dolan takes her zany, anthropomorphic animals to new heights of silliness in this Halloween tale.

After a night of sleepwalking, Farmer Greg returns to find his farm now inhabited by beasts and ghouls. “Who you gonna call?” Ghost-Hunters, of course. The three pigs, in a remarkably familiar-looking vehicle, arrive in no time with their Phantom Finder 5000 to root out the paranormal. But they don’t find anything paranormal. Not at the pond, where zombie ducks wander with bloodshot eyes: “Quack! Brains!” Not in the farmhouse, where ghostly cows roam. And not in the barn, covered in green slime, where “He lives! Frankenhorse lives!” and the Mighty Donkula presides over the vampire bats, who “vant to suck your blood.” The vegetable patch similarly registers zero on the instruments. A visit to the chicken coop reveals both the diabolical plot and the reason behind it, and readers are sure to be taken by surprise—they won’t see this twist coming. While this is definitely a children’s book, Dolan adds some masterful one-liners for adult readers’ benefit that are sure to cause chuckles (one Ghost-Hunter says, “I ain’t afraid of no goat!”). Dolan’s mixed-media illustrations balance the creepy with the silly and are filled with hysterical details, visual puns, and speech bubbles, so readers are sure to find new things on repeat readings.

This is one haunted farm readers won’t want to skip. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8658-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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