TALE OF A TAIL

Bodn†r (A Wagonload of Fish, 1996) demonstrates how false friends can still be helpful, despite their worst intentions. A fish-glutted fox has just scored a basketful of trout at the local fishing hole and repaired to his den to tuck in when his friend the bear materializes outside the door. The bear pleads for a portion, the greedy fox refuses, but, to be rid of the nuisance, tells the bear to catch his own by sticking his tail in the lake overnight. Unfortunately, the lake freezes over, and in the morning the bear must drag along the whole body of water as he struggles toward the fox’s den to give him a piece of his mind; his rage is a source of strength. In the meantime, the sun is rising and the ice is thawing. On the bear toils until he gets stuck between two trees, and notices that the lake is slowly melting, forming a stream, and in it are plenty of fish. With the fox off the hook and the bear sated, the story grinds to a halt without a real turning point; the story is resolved simplistically despite the hints that it will take on epic, or at least tall-tale, proportions. Sandford’s attractive illustrations have Jan Brett-like folkloric details, and work well within the restrictions of the story—the two main characters never meet, and the third character (the lake) is not assigned personality or substance. (Picture book/folklore. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-688-12174-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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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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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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