Shaw has created a hero in Ralph for all those kids who don’t fit in and aren’t afraid to be who they are.

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SCHOOL FOR BANDITS

Good manners win out over bad in this hysterical spoof.

Ralph’s parents, fed up with his cleanliness and nice manners, send him to Bandit School. To say that Ralph doesn't fit in is an understatement. He fails miserably at behaving badly, and his teacher constantly sends notes home about his behavior. At the end of term she announces a competition: The Best Bandit in School title will be awarded to the raccoon that returns from vacation with the most loot in its sack. The other students spend vacation harassing citizens and being chased by the police, while Ralph’s sack is empty on the morning of the first day back. But a little kindness and a few good deeds on his way to school lead to some fruitful rewards. In the end, the other students clamor to know how Ralph managed to win the contest, and the Bandit School’s curriculum changes drastically. The cartoon raccoons are delightfully bedraggled rapscallions whose mischief is sure to elicit giggles, especially from those who look closely at the details.

Shaw has created a hero in Ralph for all those kids who don’t fit in and aren’t afraid to be who they are. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 28, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86768-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2011

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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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