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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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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The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long.

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THE SERIOUS GOOSE

Bet you can’t make this goose smile, no matter how hard you try.

TV personality Kimmel’s first foray into picture books presents a feathered grump with a scowl that is proof against any kind of foolery: Try putting a chicken on her head, dressing her as a moose, or even trucking in a snail pizza—this goose won’t crack. Breaking now and again into verse, he challenges readers to give it a try in a foil mirror: “Cluck like a chicken / moo like a cow / be doofy, be goofy / any way you know how”—and sure enough, eventually a grin bursts out to replace the grimace despite a multipage struggle to hold it in, and off prances the goose in a pair of (gender-bending) tighty whities. Yes, she’s become “a SILLY goose (thanks to you),” the narrator proclaims, and what’s more, “YOU are a silly kid.” A hand-lettered narrative in block printing big enough to take up most of the space accompanies thick-lined cartoon views of a goosey glare that dares readers to crank up the volume, and the last page turn reveals a final tweak that may add a few grown-up voices to the younger chorus of giggles.

The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-70775-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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