Sweet and silly, this metafictive romp is sure to please even the most anxious readers.

READ REVIEW

LITTLE MOUSE'S BIG BOOK OF BEASTS

Little Mouse makes a triumphant return, this time trading a pen for a paintbrush to tackle fearsome foes.

In this follow-up to Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears (2008), Little Mouse edits Emily Gravett’s Big Book of Beasts, both offering an articulation of one mouse’s dislikes and ultimately making each creature seem a little less frightening. Little Mouse, who “prefer[s] jelly dishes to jelly fishes,” covers the illustrated lion’s paws with “pretty mittens” and ties up the crab’s claws with embroidery floss, noting “I do NOT like LOUD lions” and “crabs give me the creeps,” with each respective action. The final spread juxtaposes a poem about a mouse—“The tiny mouse is mild and meek, / And preyed upon, / And seen as weak”—with the image of a Frankenstein-esque mouse-monster created through collaged flaps of previous creature features “torn” from those pages and pasted over the mouse as overlaid flaps. Bright colors and bold paint strokes add cheer to balance Little Mouse’s anxieties, and the liberties Mouse takes with every aspect of the book can be empowering to readers as well. Nibbled pages, flaps, and cutouts combine with playful collage to create busy, humorous spreads that beg to be read again and again—at least until the flaps are torn off, which is sure to happen with enthusiastic use.

Sweet and silly, this metafictive romp is sure to please even the most anxious readers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3929-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Hee haw.

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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