It won’t break the mold of the big-bear-in-the-city trope, but sharp jokes and richness in the details make this book well...


A fed-up bear takes a break from his annual cave-sleeping routine but finds that his companions and slumber aren’t so easily left behind.

Bear’s hibernation time has started, but he can’t sleep. For one thing, he’s surrounded by about 20 critters who pile atop and next to him, whether it’s Beaver or Raccoon or Skunk. “I’ve had enough of being treated like a big furry mattress,” he declares and sets off to find solo accommodations at a posh hotel. It goes about as well as could be expected: he scarfs down every snack in sight, drinks from the toilet, and has trouble getting the room’s temperature right. But just when readers think that he won’t catch a wink because of the “strange, hollow, empty feeling” in his tummy, it turns out it’s not loneliness but hunger that only room service can cure. Gigantic Bear, with his enormous white belly patch and his curiosity about hair dryers and shampoos, is a grumpy delight, but he’s not completely heartless. When his pals show up, they do end up in a hibernation cuddle, though it’s unclear who’s picking up the charges for the whole winter. Stuffed with skewed, goofy, and detailed illustrations that highlight Bear’s presence against his expensive surroundings, the book goes quite a few beats further than simply delivering a moral message about being careful what you wish for. Bear gets to have his friends, his sleep, and a hibernation stay in style.

It won’t break the mold of the big-bear-in-the-city trope, but sharp jokes and richness in the details make this book well worth an extended stay. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68010-073-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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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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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