An enthusiastically taboo, devil-may-care outing for combat fans—and a great writing inspiration to use on old books headed...

BATTLE BUNNY

What if a creative, military-obsessed kid took a pencil and went to town on a boring old book?

This bold premise will cause some eye-popping as the Don’t Write In Books rule is gleefully violated. Scieszka and Barnett’s story is laid over a particularly saccharine and tepid picture book, a gift from Gran Gran to Alexander for his birthday. “Everybody needs a Special Thinking Place,” the text coos. “Where is your Special Thinking Place?” In the foundation story, Birthday Bunny anticipates birthday gifts, finds that his friends have forgotten, pouts, gets a surprise party and learns a lesson. Myers’ underlying oil paintings—some covering a whole page, others oval-shaped on faded cream paper that’s yellowing at the edges—feel decidedly old-fashioned. But neither prose nor pictures are safe from the pencil bandit. Copious words and fragments of words are struck through (though all remain clearly legible), with new words and letters hand-printed above. Careful, childlike pencil drawings (realistically smudged) enhance and completely reflavor the original paintings. Birthday Bunny is given an eye patch and a WWF belt, becoming Battle Bunny: “I am going to whomp on you, bird brain, and pluck you like a sick chicken!” Bunny’s weapons include megatron bombs and robot killer bees. “He went back to digging” becomes “He went down for the count.”

An enthusiastically taboo, devil-may-care outing for combat fans—and a great writing inspiration to use on old books headed for the bin. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4673-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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