The deserts take a while to get there, but boy, are they just.

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THE DONKEY EGG

Bear’s wily neighbor Fox produces a gigantic green “donkey egg” and convinces Bear to part with $20 for it.

The Stevens sisters delve into the folk tradition for this tale, variants of which appear in such disparate places as Korea and Algeria, creating full personalities for its protagonists along with a satisfying conclusion to the central hoax, turning a practical joke into a win for the dupe. Cameo portraits introduce the main characters, starting with Bear, who “worked hard, but not anymore. Needs motivation.” Bear is large, furry, and sleepy; Rabbit’s energetic and jumpy; Fox is dapper and sly. Readers will know, as Bear knows, that the huge watermelon is not a donkey egg. But Fox is so persuasive that Bear settles in to help the egg hatch. As Bear sits, warming the egg, rocking it, telling it stories, and playing with it, amusing sidebars calculate seconds in minutes, hours, and days and offer helpful facts (“It takes a spider about an hour to spin a fancy web”; “It takes about a week for a snake to sheds its entire skin”). Bear, who seems to snooze away his days, has a purpose. When disaster—of a sort—strikes, Bear’s devotion has sparked his energy, and he is able to act, with his friend Rabbit as cheerleader, turning Fox’s shenanigans into a fine treasure. Stevens’ nicely detailed illustrations with their exaggerated, cartoon humor emphasize the delightful silliness. That there is no note indicating the story's folk origins is a serious omission, however.

The deserts take a while to get there, but boy, are they just. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-547-32767-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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