An ideal introduction to nature’s complexities, wrapped up in an unexpectedly poetic package.

LITTLE FOX IN THE SNOW

In the snowy forest, a little fox is in turn the hunter and the hunted.

Opening on a young fox tucked safely inside his burrow, the second-person narration describes the fox’s day as he explores the snowy expanse, captures lunch, and surprises a wolverine, shifting the young fox from predator to prey. After a ferocious chase, the fox escapes and settles in to sleep, the narrator musing about the fox’s potential future as father to kits of his own. The tale unfolds in expressive free-form poetry. The short, evocative lines beautifully capture the dreamy stillness of the fox’s wandering, “lap[ping] tiny tongue-curls of icy cold water,” but deftly alternate with lines that burst forth with the urgency of the chase: “Little fox—you must go go go!” London’s fox is clearly wild, not a storybook animal, and Miyares doesn’t shy away from authenticity either, with the fox’s snacks shown realistically (though without gore). His painterly watercolors showcase the forest’s vastness and the rust-red fox, whose toothy gray shadow blazes against gleaming white snow. The fox exudes dignity and complexity, with the agile animal breaking the frame of an action-packed hunting page but also presenting as tiny and imperiled when pursued. While the story itself is a tad slight, words and art effectively convey the fox’s fluctuating role in the forest ecosystem.

An ideal introduction to nature’s complexities, wrapped up in an unexpectedly poetic package. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8814-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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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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Chilling in the best ways.

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CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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