A menagerie of fun that readers will revisit time and time again.

READ REVIEW

THE COW SAID MEOW

A cacophony of animals sneak their way into an elderly, nearsighted white woman’s home to get out of the rain, producing a funny, musical menagerie.

After a cat meows its way from the pouring rain into the home of a white-haired woman wearing Coke-bottle glasses, a clever cow standing nearby percolates an idea. The cow meows, the woman trustingly opens the door, and the cow purrs her way in. A pig that witnessed the occurrence has now learned how it can find a way indoors. “Meow,” says the pig, as a chicken watches. The chicken makes its way in with a “buk buk meow buk,” to be followed by a horse, a goat, and a duck. One particularly hysterical spread depicts the benevolent woman petting what she believes to be a cat (it’s in fact a purring goat) as the chicken grooms its leg, catlike, and the other animals wreak havoc around them. It’s in the same spread that readers will see that the original feline tenant is far from amused and so commits to ratting out the farm animals to the bespectacled woman. Creator of Chickens to the Rescue (2006) and its companions, Himmelman draws inspiration from his repertoire to populate his amusing story. With minimal text, the book encourages readers to study the animals’ expressive facial cues—from an irritated cat to an eyebrow-raising cow.

A menagerie of fun that readers will revisit time and time again. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-378-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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