As in life, love conquers all.

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WORM LOVES WORM

Austrian and Curato turn the simple wedding of two worms into a three-ring circus that slyly turns the whole controversy over same-sex versus heterosexual marriage on its head.

“Worm loves Worm. ‘Let’s be married,’ says Worm to Worm. ‘Yes!’ answers Worm. ‘Let’s be married.’ ” Seems simple to the two worms but not to the other woodland critters. Cricket insists on officiating. “That’s how it’s always been done” is his oft-repeated refrain. Beetle wants to be the best beetle, the Bees want to be the bride’s bees, the worms must wear rings, and they need a band to dance to, flowers, and a cake. The intendeds solve all these issues as well as the question of who’s the bride, who’s the groom. “ ‘I can be the bride,’ says Worm. ‘I can, too,’ says Worm.” They both are also the groom. One wears a veil, bow tie, gold ring, and black trousers; the other sports a top hat, gold ring, and flouncy white skirt. The wedding party is in awe, save uptight Cricket. “ ‘We’ll just change how it’s done,’ says Worm.” And so they do, and they are married at last...“because Worm loves Worm.” Curato’s pencil-and-Photoshop illustrations use white backgrounds to great effect, keeping the characters front and center. The two worms are differentiated only by their eyes: one has black dots, and the other has white around the black dots.

As in life, love conquers all. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-238633-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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