Though a dog on the loose on a ferryboat is truly a fairy tale, Walter’s story is a tale well-told.

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FERRY TAIL

An energetic, joyful dog finds his true home and family onboard a large ferryboat that conveys cars and people to an island community.

Walter is a large, reddish dog with a white nose and tail, possibly part Irish setter. He freely roams the ferryboat on its daily trip, bringing the newspaper to the gray-bearded captain, listening to the sound of the engine with the ship’s female engineer and tasting the bacon for the male cook. Walter gets along with everyone except the captain’s spoiled cat, Cupcake, who tries to take over Walter’s duties aboard ship. When Walter leaves the ship and tries life on the island, he finds he isn’t welcomed there by anyone, and life on land is strange and unsatisfying for a canine used to life onboard. Cupcake the cat shows up to retrieve the lost dog, and they return to the ferryboat together as friends in a satisfying conclusion. Although the plot is predictable, the text conveys genuine emotion in Walter’s classic search for his true home. A large trim size and appealing illustrations in a variety of formats bring Walter’s antics and the island community to life.

Though a dog on the loose on a ferryboat is truly a fairy tale, Walter’s story is a tale well-told. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58536-829-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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