MARSUPIAL SUE PRESENTS THE RUNAWAY PANCAKE

BOOK AND CD

In this hilarious sequel, Sue, Bartholomew Koala, Sydney Wombat, Winifred Wallaby, Percy Platypus, Melbourne Sheep and Neville, the Tasmanian Devil star in their local Aussie production of “The Runaway Pancake.” Sue plays Auntie May who bakes a pancake for lunch that jumps from the oven wearing a “naughty expression on his face” and runs away singing, “I’m too fast, you’re too slow. . . . I can get away from you, I can.” With Auntie May in hot pursuit, the Runaway Pancake rolls through the countryside taunting all with his cocky refrain. Soon a Dog, a Cow, a Donkey, a Wolf and a Bear join the chase until the Fox lures the renegade Pancake just close enough. Colored-pencil, acrylic and ink illustrations packed with wacky details are entertaining in their own right, especially the Pancake in his running shoes. From endpages showing cast and crew prepping backstage to the final-page bow, this rollicking, rib-tickling, rhythmic rendition of a favorite tale will provide a gleeful read-aloud and sing-along. (CD recording of author’s live performance) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-689-87847-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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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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Waiting for Godot imagined for the playground population’s sensibilities.

THE ROCK FROM THE SKY

If Samuel Beckett had written an early reader, it might look something like this one.

In the first of five chapters, Klassen places his now-familiar turtle and armadillo (wearing bowler hats) on a minimalist gray/green landscape with one flower and—on the facing page—one plant. Personalities are revealed through occasional, slow movement across the gutter together with color-coded dialogue that feels as if it is being invented in the moment, sans script. Turtle is inflexible, not wanting to relocate, even when Armadillo moves farther away after a bad feeling about the space. It is only when Snake (sporting a beret) appears near the mammal that Turtle joins them—just in time: A huge asteroid falls on the vacated spot. Readers have watched it coming, suspense effectively building as they turn the pages. In subsequent episodes, Armadillo attempts to be helpful; miscommunication abounds; and Turtle is stubborn, proud, and jealous of the unspeaking snake, now near the rock: “I see how it is. Just enough room for two.” Turtle playing the martyr: “Maybe I will never come back.” As daylight turns into a striking, rose-tinged sunset and then a starlit evening, a life-zapping extraterrestrial (created previously in Armadillo’s futuristic forest fantasy) stalks Turtle. At the last minute, a second asteroid annihilates the creature. Klassen’s animals react to their seemingly absurd—but never tragic—universe with characteristically subtle, humorous postures and eye maneuvers. The weirdness of it all exerts its own attractive force, drawing readers back to it to wonder and ponder.

Waiting for Godot imagined for the playground population’s sensibilities. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1562-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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