If Adamson can make so much entertaining hay out of a simple day in the backyard, it’s likely we’ll be seeing more Douglas...

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DOUGLAS, YOU'RE A GENIUS!

The mystery of new neighbors on the other side of a high fence leads Nancy and her dog, Douglas, to a bilingual surprise in a confident follow-up to Douglas, You Need Glasses! (2016).

One day when Nancy and Douglas hit a ball through a small hole in their fence, it’s rolled back. After sending over a toy train with a message of greeting, they receive messages in Spanish including, “¡Hola!” and “Queremos conocerte” (“Hello” and “We’d like to meet you,” respectively; an opening glossary is provided for those who don’t read Spanish). This makes the duo so curious that Nancy hatches a series of elaborate, graph-paper–diagrammed schemes to somehow scale the fence. When, thanks to Douglas, the two finally meet their Spanish-speaking neighbors, another kid and dog who were also busy trying to meet them. It ends with plans for an escalator and water slide, because of course it does. Adamson’s wit extends not only to some bits of subtle visual humor (some birds build a nest on Douglas’ head while they wait), but to the paper plans themselves, which are as needlessly elaborate as they are funny. If there’s a missed opportunity it’s that readers don’t get to know the Spanish-writing pair at all, even their names. Nancy and the neighbor kid both have pale skin.

If Adamson can make so much entertaining hay out of a simple day in the backyard, it’s likely we’ll be seeing more Douglas stories. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6530-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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