Throughout, condensed poetic image coupled with spare illustration yields huge effect; in a word, magical.

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HI, KOO!

A YEAR OF SEASONS

Long before photography, poets took to haiku, the poetic equivalent of a snapshot, and painters, to the suggestive medium of watercolor to capture the essence of moments in nature.

Caldecott Honoree Muth (Zen Shorts, 2005) employs both, with the help of his playful panda Koo, to present 26 moments through the seasons. Though light in tone and geared toward pre-reader eyes and interests, the mostly outdoor scenes Muth depicts command serious attention from all. The first page simultaneously demonstrates both Muth’s adherence to haiku’s three-line form rather than its traditional five-seven-five syllabic sequence and his exquisite use of white space. “Autumn, / are you dreaming / of new clothes?” reads the text as Koo reaches up to try to catch a handful of falling leaves. One of the few scenes referencing indoor living hilariously comes in early spring: “too much TV this winter / my eyes are square / let’s go Out and play.” Two children and Koo stand in front of a large television, the whites of the children’s eyes boxed and zombielike and Koo’s, two solid black squares. A more reflective, deeply moving spring moment finds the children alone with a book in the woods, Muth’s delicate watercolor and subtle inking deftly suggesting the forest’s shifting scope.

Throughout, condensed poetic image coupled with spare illustration yields huge effect; in a word, magical. (Picture book/poetry. 3 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-16668-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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