THE LITTLE BUGGERS

INSECT AND SPIDER POEMS

Aimed at a younger audience than its wittier, more sophisticated cousin, Paul Fleischman’s Joyful Noise (1989), this collection of poems celebrates bugs. Lewis (The La-Di-Da Hare, 1997, etc.) has keen antennae for wordplay, seeking ways to exploit types of insects by making their attributes humorous. One poem features a praying mantis who kissed her mate on the first date, “then ate the pesky fellow.” Another zooms in on the vexing reputation of the housefly. Relationships to humans, referred to as “Them” in a silly poem about silverfish, fall under scrutiny; a plug for reading sneaks past in a poem about book mites; a cockroach announces that it was born “outside a place called Blueberry Muffin Mix.” Other snappy subjects include a streetlight where all the buggy locals hang out, and the myriad names for butterflies. While couple of poems feel forced—“The Doodlebug Song” strains for comedy while “The Ladybug” labors under its staccato rhythm—most are as short and rapid as insect chatter, as in the quip between “The Stinkbug and the Cricket.” Chess’s insect personifications are suitably wacky, exaggerating the insects’ large mouths and eyes and tiny feet. The title of each poem twists across the page, adding extra zip to the critters we so often zap. (Poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8037-1769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1998

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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