Jaded readers will love this crafty twist on the holy fool.

CLARENCE'S TOPSY-TURVY SHABBAT

Clarence the raccoon might be the anti–Amelia Bedelia.

There’s a long tradition of lovable fools, like Amelia Bedelia and Lazy Jack, who are so sweet that everyone adores them even when they get things hopelessly mixed up. When Amelia Bedelia dresses a chicken, it ends up wearing a charming outfit, and, in this picture book, Clarence seems to follow the same school of thought. When he’s baking challah bread for the Jewish Sabbath, he comes home with a bunny instead of honey and a beast instead of yeast. But Clarence is much more cunning than his progenitors. The animals turn out to be a fantastic baking team. The beast, for example, is an “absolutely terrific” kneader. Almost every page of the book has an unexpected twist, and the surprises are more satisfying than the actual jokes. The low point is when Clarence picks up soil instead of oil. Even the narrator often seems surprised, with comments like, “Seriously, Clarence? WHAT are you thinking?” If those exclamations are a little too intrusive, the surprises in the artwork are wonderfully nontraditional. They reverse the usual big-head, big-eyes style of cartooning. Most of the animals have long, lanky bodies and pinprick eyes. But the best surprise is what a joyful found family the animals make at Shabbat dinner.

Jaded readers will love this crafty twist on the holy fool. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-4242-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

SLUG IN LOVE

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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