Forget the message. Come for the cacophony of color and the slapstick instead.

READ REVIEW

THE GOLDEN ACORN

The cadre of compassionate forest critters from A Loud Winter’s Nap (2017) returns to prove that teamwork beats going it alone.

Squirrel’s no slouch. For the last eight years she has won the Great Acorn Hunt, but this time around someone’s thrown a wrench in the works. After a rule change, the race is now a team competition, and Squirrel quickly discovers her friends Beaver, Tortoise, Rabbit, and Bird aren’t quite as adept as she at navigating treetops. Come race day, Squirrel must constantly cede her lead to help her teammates when they get stuck. It’s not entirely clear why her friends want to participate in the race at all or, for that matter, why the cutthroat competitor, after swallowing her annoyance with them throughout, has a 180-degree change of heart mere pages from the tale’s end. She’s left her friends behind and snagged the Golden Acorn by herself— but “Tired, sweaty and...lonely,” Squirrel abandons it and goes back to her friends. “From now on, Squirrel’s friends would ALWAYS come first.” This epiphany feels tacked on at best, if not outright unbelievable. Hudson’s artistic flair helps to compensate for her storytelling. Set against a rich autumnal backdrop, pumpkin pie, candied apples, and warm woolen scarves pop. Plus, it’s hard to imagine any funnier representation of a beaver squeezing through oaken knotholes than this.

Forget the message. Come for the cacophony of color and the slapstick instead. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68446-036-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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