Lyon’s ability to see the connections among things and her affection for the natural world, amply demonstrated in earlier...

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WHAT FOREST KNOWS

An extended poetic appreciation for what goes on in a forest through the seasons.

“Forest knows waiting,…Forest knows waking,…Forest knows growing,…[and] Forest knows gathering in.” This lyrical tribute makes note of the changing textures, colors, animals and activities in this beautiful, mysterious world. From buds and birds to moles and centipedes, there is much to see at any time of the year. Hall's painterly Photoshop illustrations, some created over actual photographs, match the poem's mood. Often hazy, just beyond the edge of realistic, they give the impression that there’s still more to be seen. And there is. Parts of an exploring dog appear in each image—coming into the picture or just leaving, hidden behind a tree or partially obscured by a deer's leg. Only toward the end is the whole (and wholly enthusiastic) dog revealed, as well as the child who accompanies it through the forest. Then a double-page spread closes in on the dog’s face, which totally expresses its joy at exploring this world of interesting smells. “Forest knows everything belongs. / YOU, too.” The final page turn invites readers to appreciate this walk through a forest year as much as the poet does.

Lyon’s ability to see the connections among things and her affection for the natural world, amply demonstrated in earlier works, shine through this latest offering. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6775-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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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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