THE SISSY DUCKLING

No, Elmer isn’t like the other boy ducklings; they box and play baseball, he bakes cakes and puts on puppet shows. Yes, Elmer is a great big sissy. When his dad complains that Elmer has made him the laughingstock of the flock, his mom reassuringly tells him he is special and someday will amaze everyone. That day happens when the flock flies south for the winter. As the ducks take to the sky, hunters shoot at them, wounding Papa. Elmer, who weeks before had swum away from home when his dad declared him “no son of his,” witnesses the horrible scene and rescues Papa, nursing him through the winter in the hollow tree he has made his stylish home. When spring and the ducks return, they are amazed to see Papa and Elmer, now a hero. Elmer is endearing with Cole’s colorful and sprightly illustrations combining line and style of Disney and Paul Galdone. The cover sets the tone, with Elmer wearing heart-shaped sunglasses and skipping as others watch disapprovingly. Portraits of Ethel Merman and Barbie adorn his wall and he carries a flowered backpack. For those who don’t recognize the author’s name, the layered double meaning in the book’s message will be immaterial while the familiar story in a new guise will resonate with any kid who’s felt like an “underduck.” This heartwarming tale, based on Fierstein’s HBO animated special, is just ducky. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-83566-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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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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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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