Czekaj’s tale radiates good cheer, in both its snappy dialogue and its vitalizing artwork, and effectively counsels that...

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YES, YES, YAUL!

Hip and Hop (Hip & Hop, Don't Stop!, 2010) return to put some positive vibes into the life of a Mr. Negativo.

Czekaj’s rap duo has taken the show on the road for the summer. They have wowed the crowds all across Oldskool County with their blend of jazzy and languorous rapping. Hip, being a turtle, rhymes to his own relaxed beat, while Hop, a rabbit, puts a little zip into her phrasings, and readers are encouraged to follow suit. The raps have the kind of engaging splash that ought to get those same readers into the mix, maybe throwing down a few of their own lines to go with “We’re leaping frogs / and chilling on logs,” and “We’re holding our breath, / while still looking def.” But one of the book’s characters, Yaul the porcupine, isn’t impressed. Actually, Yaul isn’t impressed by anything: not rainbows or butterflies, not stylish mittens, fuzzy kittens, carrots or parrots. It takes an itchy sweater to turn Yaul’s head around—to learn that he can chill enough to get excited about the world around him (maybe not sewer grates, admittedly)—which is appropriately out of left field to go along with the rest of the story.

Czekaj’s tale radiates good cheer, in both its snappy dialogue and its vitalizing artwork, and effectively counsels that involvement is one of the keys to living. (Picture book. 3-7) 

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-4682-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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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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