Sure to worm its way into readers’ hearts.

THE WORM FAMILY HAS ITS PICTURE TAKEN

A warm, witty, wonderful worm tale.

When Mrs. Worm has the bright idea of taking a family portrait, her eldest daughter, Emma, is very excited. That feeling fades, however, when Emma worries that their picture won’t be special like those of her friends’ families. They can’t smile like the beavers since they don’t have teeth. They can’t style their hair to be fluffy like a cat’s since they don’t have hair. They can’t be colorful like a family of butterflies. Or can they? Emma comes up with a plan to deck her family out in wigs, clothes, and fake teeth, but then they just don’t look like themselves—as the muskrat photographer comically points out when he doesn’t even recognize them. Throughout, Stein’s expressive, sly, wobbly-lined art enhances the humor of Frank’s text with details that will delight readers, such as the worms’ use of piles of earth to blanket them as they sleep upon rooted carrots in their underground home or the worm parents’ use of a simple sling to carry the baby of the family. When the worm family sheds itself of Emma’s costuming, they come up with an ingenious plan to get “into a delightful pose only a worm family could make,” the illustration of which will surely bring smiles to readers’ faces. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 21.4% of actual size.)

Sure to worm its way into readers’ hearts. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12478-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Random

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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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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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