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THE LONG TALL JOURNEY

A stunningly produced version of an odd but oft-told story.

In 1825, the Ottoman viceroy of Egypt gave a giraffe to Charles X of France.

The two-year journey of a giraffe from Sudan to Paris in the first quarter of the 19th century is exotic enough to have been told a number of times. This version is told from the deeply anthropomorphized point of view of the giraffe herself. The giraffe is captured by men with ropes and spears, carried on camelback and loaded onto a ship, where she is cared for by two boys. Across the Mediterranean, the party walks from Marseilles to Paris, and the giraffe becomes something of a media star. All of this is illustrated in lush, full-page, digitally produced art that resembles oil painting and that makes the most of the many varied landscapes the giraffe travels through. The giraffe opens herself to all these unknown experiences in her narration, finding joy in how people perceive her as elegant and graceful. Adult and older child readers may alternatively contemplate the horror of being forcibly taken from one’s homeland or the gift of making the best of where one finds oneself; younger children may take delight in the scenes of the giraffe being carried on the back of a camel and eating the flowers from a woman’s hair.

A stunningly produced version of an odd but oft-told story. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-56846-230-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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CAPTAIN AWESOME TO THE RESCUE!

From the Captain Awesome series , Vol. 1

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

The town of Sunnyview got a little bit safer when 8-year-old Eugene McGillicudy moved in.

Just like his comic-book mentor, Super Dude, Eugene, aka Captain Awesome, is on a one-man mission is to save the world from supervillains, like the nefarious “Queen Stinkypants from Planet Baby.” Just as Eugene suspected, plenty of new supervillains await him at Sunnyview Elementary. Are Meredith Mooney and the mind-reading Ms. Beasley secretly working together to try and force Eugene to reveal his secret identity? Will Principal Brick Foot succeed in throwing Captain Awesome into the “Dungeon of Detention?” Fortunately, Eugene isn’t forced to go it alone. Charlie Thomas Jones, fellow comic-book lover and Super Dude fan, stands ready and willing to help. When the class hamster goes missing, Captain Awesome must don his cape and, with the help of his new best friend, ride to the rescue. Kirby’s funny and engaging third-person narration and O’Connor’s hilarious illustrations make the book easily accessible and enormously appealing, particularly to readers who have recently graduated to chapter books. But it is the quirky, mischievous Eugene that really makes this book special. His energy and humor are contagious, and his dogged commitment to his superhero alter ego is enough to make anyone a believer.  

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4090-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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