MOUSE ISLAND

Bunting’s story of an island-dwelling mouse is a tale of longing written with great flair, but it is also a bit perplexing. “Mouse lived alone on an island,” it begins. Shortly thereafter, readers learn that “mouse wondered why he wasn’t the most contented mouse on earth.” Mouse might be clueless, but even the youngest readers will be hip to the problem. As Mouse attends to his daily rounds of the island—“Mouse tiptoed among the tide pools, nibbling the soft-bellied sea things”—sea lions honk to him from the beach and Herring Gull drops in for a visit, extending an invitation to see the world. So friends are available. Maybe Mouse needs more than friends; maybe Mouse needs a mate. Yet, the half-drowned furry thing he rescues from a shipwreck isn’t another mouse. It’s a cat. Mating is out, though friendship is in after initial misunderstandings are tidied up: “I would never eat you . . . I am an honorable cat and I have an obligation.” Cat even teaches Mouse how to play beach volleyball. But aren’t sea lions renowned ball handlers? Why didn’t they teach Mouse? Still, much pleasure can be found in Bunting’s melodious prose—“He saw whales passing, their white breaths smoking against the sky”—as well as Catalano’s lovely pastels. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59078-447-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2008

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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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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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