There is so much feathered fun here, it’s pure poultry in motion.

COUNT YOUR CHICKENS

Unfolding in short, bouncy rhymes, this atypical counting book fills its pages with a flock of chickens enjoying a day at the county fair.

What distinguishes this counting book is that the number of chickens to count on each double-page spread is neither simple nor sequential. There are chickens everywhere, reminiscent of Richard Scarry, with as many as 35 or more chicks, hens, and roosters on the pages. They ride the Ferris wheel and merry-go-round, toss balls at the dunk tank and teddy bear booth, and cheer at the grasshopper-tart contest. The rhymes go down easy: “Chickens on the Ferris wheel / shriek with laughter, scream and squeal. / Chicken sister cannot speak— / cotton candy in her beak!” While the short rhymes relate the action, the boisterous chickens take center stage. Digitally colored pencil illustrations use small, simple shapes to describe the chickens, but they are individually dressed in a broad range of fair attire: plaid shirts, jeans, vests, frilly dresses. The chickens are depicted in a wide range of plumage colors, and details in the clothing make it possible to follow some chicks across pages. Visual puns will make adults giggle: the Dixie Chickens perform onstage, as do the Blues Brothers. Backmatter has a simple quiz with answers, but there is no key listing the actual count of chickens per spread.

There is so much feathered fun here, it’s pure poultry in motion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77049-792-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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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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