Lovely, if poorly hung together

THE BLUE HOUR

A visual rhapsody in blue.

The front endpapers of this slightly oversized picture book offer 32 daubs of blue ranging in value from pale blue to midnight blue, giving readers a sense of what’s to come. The opening text relates, “The day ends. / The night falls. / And in between… / there is the blue hour.” This is printed in blue, natch, on a pale-blue sky. As readers turn the pages, they are introduced to a dizzying variety of blue creatures, some generic (blue-feathered songbirds, silver-blue sardines) and others exotically specific (vulturine guineafowl, blue monkeys, blue poison dart frogs). As the titular “blue hour” progresses, page backgrounds deepen, until the final page, which presents silhouettes of many of the animals and plants described against a midnight-blue, star-spangled sky. Taken individually, each image dazzles, from an astonishing close-up of a blue morpho butterfly to an expansive landscape, the slightly paler-blue silhouette of a Russian blue cat slinking off in the bottom right-hand corner. Taken all together, however, there is a frustrating lack of definition, as these flora and fauna do not all inhabit one biome or even time zone, as the rear endpapers, a map of the world with white silhouettes of the animals placed where they are found, attest. This dismantles the inviting conceit of the “blue hour” as an organizational concept.

Lovely, if poorly hung together . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5488-9

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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Hee haw.

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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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