These nameless animals make the journey count. With gorgeous artwork and a striking, poetic approach, the bond of parent and...

THE ROAD HOME

The struggle to survive and find a home in nature is told in verse.

For those who don't appreciate children’s books that sugarcoat the harsh truths of survival in the wild, there's this spare and beautiful book in which a bird, a rabbit, a mouse, and a wolf travel with their respective offspring, trying to find a home, sometimes while outrunning death. With the refrain, "This road is hard, this road is long, / this road that leads us home," it's critter tales as if told by Cormac McCarthy. But rather than seeming scary or unsettling, the effect feels truthful and significant. Any child will understand that the stakes are high for the rabbits on the run ("For Wolf is near. His name is Fear. / He wants us for his own"), but the resolution is lovely and comforting. "This road is hard, this road is long, / but we are not alone. / For you are here, and I'm with you… // and so this road is home." The highly textured illustrations keep a respectful distance, allowing a glimpse of these creatures without losing the scale of the world they're up against; the backgrounds are moody and at times foreboding, but the last two spreads, in which the journeys of all the sets of animals come together, are breathtaking.

These nameless animals make the journey count. With gorgeous artwork and a striking, poetic approach, the bond of parent and child is successfully conveyed. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2374-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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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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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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