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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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