Translated from Hungarian, this whimsical, modern folktale begs to be read aloud

ARNICA

THE DUCK PRINCESS

A princess and her beloved improve their kingdom with intelligence and generosity while seeking to reverse a fowl curse.

Far away, in a castle with 36 towers and 300 windows, lives clever Princess Arnica. The princess and honest, practical Poor Johnny, “the most footloose and fancy-free of all people,” fall in love and are cursed by the Witch of a Hundred Faces. One will be a duck and the other a human until the Seven-Headed Fairy breaks the spell. As they search for the fairy, the pair encounters eclectic characters and situations, the episodes illustrating modern virtues that include the value of anger management, the power of love, and the pitfalls of material wealth. The book closes with a nuanced moral: “The important thing is to really, really want something. Even if it won’t necessarily succeed.” The short, connected episodes are built from folktalelike phrases. Two nameless narrators interrupt the story frequently for humorous, candid discussions of plot and characters. Mixed-media full-page and spot illustrations grace every other page and depict a largely white cast. Rounded shapes and bodies work in tandem with a sparkling jewel-toned palette to create a charming fantasy world, softening the ferocity of the witch and her animal minions. Readers will hope this is just the first of many works by Lázár, who died in 2006, to be translated into English.

Translated from Hungarian, this whimsical, modern folktale begs to be read aloud . (Fable. 4-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78269-220-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Pushkin Press

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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