This boardwalk frolic proves even small fries can solve big mysteries.

BEN & ZIP

TWO SHORT FRIENDS

A beachside lost-and-found adventure, told from a kid’s point of view.

“Ben was short. Zip was shorter. They skipped along the boardwalk toward their favorite spot....” So begins this tale of a small boy who loses his smaller friend on a beachside boardwalk. The text informs readers that they are headed toward a popcorn wagon, while the illustration, a low aerial view of the beach and boardwalk dotted with people, makes it hard to tell who’s Ben and who’s Zip. Suddenly the wind whips up, the sound of thunder fills the air, and Zip dashes off, disappearing into the crowd. Then Ben is shown, dressed in a bold yellow-and-blue basketball jersey, frantically searching for Zip with his parents in tow. At first, all Ben can see is the vista from his level: “[r]ight knees, left knees, knees with sandy patches. / Fat knees, bony knees, knees with bumps and scratches.” The image of this forest of feet and legs is delightfully funny; some legs are hairy and some are not, and one pair reveals a whopping sunburn above the sock line. Each time Ben climbs a bit higher to scout out from a better view, the prose turns into a humorous rhyming description of what he sees: bellies, hair, an empty beach (it has begun to rain). The well-paced watercolor illustrations, abundant with marvelous, comic details, are a neat complement to the adventure.

This boardwalk frolic proves even small fries can solve big mysteries. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-9362612-8-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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