BACK TO SCHOOL FOR ROTTEN RALPH

Rotten Ralph (Rotten Ralph’s Rotten Romance, 1997, etc.) returns in a ninth adventure, afraid of losing Sarah’s attention and affection when she starts school. He sets her clocks back, messes up her school clothing, and fakes illness to prevent her from leaving for school on the first day. When those efforts fail, he sneaks into school disguised as a student and disrupts Sarah’s day—even getting her in trouble—with a series of tricks. Most readers will be able to identify Ralph’s fear of change and worries about losing his best friend. As always, Gantos supplies a happy ending for Ralph and Sarah; it’s safely predictable while providing some surprises along the way. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 1998

ISBN: 0-06-027531-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

INFINITE COUNTRY

A 15-year-old girl in Colombia, doing time in a remote detention center, orchestrates a jail break and tries to get home.

"People say drugs and alcohol are the greatest and most persuasive narcotics—the elements most likely to ruin a life. They're wrong. It's love." As the U.S. recovers from the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, from the misery of separations on the border, from both the idea and the reality of a wall around the United States, Engel's vital story of a divided Colombian family is a book we need to read. Weaving Andean myth and natural symbolism into her narrative—condors signify mating for life, jaguars revenge; the embattled Colombians are "a singed species of birds without feathers who can still fly"; children born in one country and raised in another are "repotted flowers, creatures forced to live in the wrong habitat"—she follows Talia, the youngest child, on a complex journey. Having committed a violent crime not long before she was scheduled to leave her father in Bogotá to join her mother and siblings in New Jersey, she winds up in a horrible Catholic juvie from which she must escape in order to make her plane. Hence the book's wonderful first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun." Talia's cross-country journey is interwoven with the story of her parents' early romance, their migration to the United States, her father's deportation, her grandmother's death, the struggle to reunite. In the latter third of the book, surprising narrative shifts are made to include the voices of Talia's siblings, raised in the U.S. This provides interesting new perspectives, but it is a little awkward to break the fourth wall so late in the book. Attention, TV and movie people: This story is made for the screen.

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982159-46-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A BIRTHDAY FOR COW!

Thomas scores again after What Will Fat Cat Sit On? (2007) with another droll crowd-pleaser for the OshKosh B’Gosh set. Scornfully rejecting Duck’s hilariously persistent efforts to add a turnip, Pig and Mouse create a luscious cake—only to find themselves saddled with eating it themselves (not that they mind) when Cow obliviously falls on Duck’s turnip, rapturously declaring this birthday the best one ever. Punctuated by punch-line words (usually “TURNIP”) in red, the huge, pithy text is paired to simply drawn figures that spill past the edges, and often seem ready to pop right up from the page. From the calendar countdown on the front endpapers (Cow’s birthday is October 17th, if you’re curious) to a closing joke on the rear ones about using turnips as toothbrushes, this riotous read-aloud is guaranteed to have them rolling in the aisles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-206072-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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