A charming book with a solid message about changing one’s life through hard work, imagination, and openness to new...

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HIPPOPOTAMISTER

A hippo discovers that the possibilities are limitless.

Hippopotamus’ zoo home is in complete disrepair. Since no kids come to visit, the grounds are overgrown, and the animals look unkempt, neglected, and lonely. Bored and frustrated with his life, Hippo leaves the zoo in order to find a job among humans, refashioning himself as a Hippopotamister. But for what profession is a hippo suited? Green’s warm illustrations and graphic-novel presentation create an appealing protagonist for his debut children’s book as both author and illustrator (with finishing touches by colorist Caro). While the story's tone is more lighthearted than the early Babar books, Hippo’s struggle to find his place in the world is reminiscent of that famous elephant’s, and it is one with which readers will undoubtedly identify. Red Panda, Hippo’s madcap sidekick, is his guide to the human world, and with each occupation they attempt, from hairstylists and construction workers to sous-chefs, Hippo learns more about himself and his hitherto-undiscovered talents. This story contains all of the elements that make the quintessential self-discovery tale so rewarding, as Hippo learns that birthplace need not dictate one’s future and that identity and true happiness might lie in merging the new world he discovers with the home he initially leaves.

A charming book with a solid message about changing one’s life through hard work, imagination, and openness to new experiences. (Graphic fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62672-200-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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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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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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