From the creator of the Benjamin Bear books, absurdist humor carries across species.

A GOOFY GUIDE TO PENGUINS

Silly untruths about penguins unfold in comic-book style.

The premise is to ask wacky questions about penguins and then supply even wackier answers. Short, two-paneled comic strips explain all kinds of penguin antics. How do penguins know they’ve reached the South Pole? When they see the road sign that indicates every direction is north, of course. Why do penguins like to stand? Because only a small amount of snow will pile on their heads. But if they lie down, a mountain will pile on their backs. Endless gags rely on snow/ice humor and also the assertion that all penguins look alike (which makes hide-and-seek difficult). The Coudray author-illustrator duo are twins—they identify with penguins when folks can’t tell them apart. The foundation of silliness is set up in the title and continues with cues in the art. Penguins wear mittens, use electric space heaters, and hold umbrellas. Hopefully, readers will get the joke from the start and not take any of these to be facts. If any confusion does ensue, some “Amazing But True: 100% Genuine, Real Facts About Penguins” appear in the backmatter.

From the creator of the Benjamin Bear books, absurdist humor carries across species. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-935179-96-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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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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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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