A strange story saved by silly art.

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SQUIRRELS ON SKIS

An odd story about a plucky reporter, an entrepreneurial rabbit and, yes, skiing squirrels stumbles a bit but doesn’t completely crash and burn.

Engaging cover art from Lemaitre highlights the book’s humorous, cartoonish flair as its strongest attribute. Pictures evoke movement and comic reactions to outlandish scenarios, positioning Lemaitre as an illustrator to watch. Ray’s text, however, falters in its rhyme and rhythm and in its unwieldy plot revelation. Though a story about squirrels, it’s impossible to put it in a nutshell, but here goes: Skiing squirrels descend on a town, upsetting the citizens and creating no small amount of chaos. Where are they coming from? Who’s given them skis? What to do? The aforementioned plucky reporter, Sally Sue Breeze, sets out to investigate, hoping to save them from the sad fate suggested by the evil Mr. Powers, who would like to obliterate the squirrels with a vacuumlike contraption. She discovers that a rabbit has been selling the squirrels Popsicle-stick skis and toothpick ski poles in exchange for all of their acorns, and Sally convinces him to return some of the food to the starving squirrels. She also manages to set up a ski area at the erstwhile ski and ski pole factory, while convincing the squirrels to ski only there and not through the town.

A strange story saved by silly art. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-449-81081-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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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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