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

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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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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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