Follow this agreeable outing with Doreen Cronin and Scott Menchin’s Wiggle (2005) during storytime to harness the inevitable...

FRED WANTS TO PLAY

When Fred gets that “bouncy feeling,” he can’t help playing and disturbing others, but when he finds a kindred playful spirit, the two make music together that everyone enjoys.

Fred is an energetic octopus surrounded by disapproving sea creatures, especially the sawfish. “Why can’t you keep still like the other fish?” they scold during quiet time. Sent away, he encounters a clamshell that makes an interesting noise when knocked—until it traps his tentacle. It’s Scott, who also needs to play. Together, their dancing attracts the other fish, and everyone has a good time. This sympathetic story comes from Belgium and the Netherlands, but young readers and listeners anywhere in the world will recognize Fred’s need to wiggle. On one spread, Fred tries desperately to hold in his emotions, clenching eyes and mouth, puffing up his face, and braiding his tentacles—a small child about to explode. Schneider’s pastel paintings show the suppressed energy through the changing colors of these two playful characters. All the anthropomorphized sea creatures have large eyes and expressive faces; they would show well to a group. The text includes made-up words that characterize the sound of Fred’s noisy play: “FLING FLANG FONG / PLUNG PLANG PLONG.” The smooth translation is credited to the publisher.

Follow this agreeable outing with Doreen Cronin and Scott Menchin’s Wiggle (2005) during storytime to harness the inevitable imitations. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-60537-388-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Hee haw.

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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