Venice’s Grand Canal is a splendid stage for this smooth reptilian operator.

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ARRIVEDERCI, CROCODILE

OR SEE YOU LATER, ALLIGATOR

This sequel to Marcellino’s I, Crocodile (1999) follows the reptile as he emerges from hiding in the sewers of Paris to stow away on his former captor’s Venice-bound caravan.

The backstory—in which Napoleon snatched the crocodile out of Egypt—is summarized on the first page. While the emperor is busy looting Venetian palaces, the protagonist realizes: “This town was made for a crocodile!” Between the ease of travel through the canals and the scent of “ragù alla Bolognese,” he is enraptured. Following his nose, he encounters masked revelers who delight in the authenticity of his costume and invite him to lunch—and a ball. Suspense builds when the crocodile’s nemesis appears just as the hero is drawn into a “catchy mazurka” with “a rather forward young lady” (ultimately, the crocodile’s champion). Marcellino wrote the sparkling, witty, first-person narrative; created a dummy; and finished some watercolors before his untimely death in 2001. French illustrator Puybaret was recently invited to pick up the mantle. While each artist’s style is unique, their toylike figures and complex architectural settings are simpatico, allowing Puybaret to honor the original style while remaining true to his own. The result is a seamless story as hilarious and high spirited as the first. The subtle coloring is artful; the pacing—constructed with thought bubbles, insets, and dramatic double spreads—is perfect.

Venice’s Grand Canal is a splendid stage for this smooth reptilian operator. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0401-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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