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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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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