A cautionary tale on a minor note.

READ REVIEW

LEAP FROG

There are lots of noises and many other animals that make Felix the tree frog worry.

Young readers could start to fear for his safety, but the book’s narrator constantly works to reassure and engage them. “Plip! Plop! Splash! What’s that noise? Felix looks worried, doesn’t he? Let’s turn the page and show him there’s nothing to be scared of.” It turns out that a “friendly turtle” has made the noise. Other animals, such as a “shiny beetle,” “playful monkeys,” and a “slithery snake,” cross the little frog’s path, and there are other actions for readers to take: “Clap your hands and shout, ‘Shoo, slithery snake’ ”; counting the branches of a tall tree (the book must be turned 90 degrees to view it) that Felix climbs to get away from a “busy woodpecker.” When something else comes up that tall tree, the narrator exhorts readers to say “Leap, frog!” But Felix is a little more aware of his own environment than readers are, and all’s well. The vibrant, full-bleed illustrations are reminiscent of Eric Carle’s collaged flora and fauna. While the text reads a little bumpily, it is engaging and the pictures should work well with a group. Some children may want to know if any of the other animals really could be harmful to the little tree frog. This book does not provide the answers.

A cautionary tale on a minor note. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1205-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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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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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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