Ultracaffeinated weasels plotting world domination face a setback when their room-sized, Rube Goldberg–ian machine breaks down.

They scurry to troubleshoot, many of them inappropriately insistent on deploying tools like a blow torch, saws and a large electric drill. Luckily, the Health and Safety officer prevails, and the gang repairs to the laboratory to tinker. Dolan’s mixed-media double-page spreads feature busy, often multileveled interiors, with scores of critters furiously causing as much trouble as they ameliorate. In the lab, one weasel activates a fire extinguisher while another demurs: “I just thought a few candles would cheer the place up.” Observant kids will discern that Dolan cleverly employs a blue-eyed white weasel as both the cause and the solver of the machine’s malfunction. Their parents will chuckle over the Blofeld-like weasel stroking a white mouse. The final twist bucks the banal, customary “Good triumphs over evil” message in favor of something more akin to “Try, try again.” Darned if those weaselly co-conspirators haven’t conquered the world after all: A page turn reveals a new currency, freshly installed heads of state and a revisionist retrofit for an Egyptian sphinx. Amid sight gags, crossed wires and way too many espresso drinks, these weasels rule! (Picture book. 5-8)


Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7100-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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Hee haw.

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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 first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.


From the Fly Guy series

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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