GRAYBOY

A girl recalls a memorable summer when she, her grandparents, and her friend Robert find an injured seagull they name Grayboy. The gull becomes a part of their days of shell-collecting and sandcastle-building as they hunt crabs and catch minnows to feed him. One day a storm catches Robert and his father stuck out in their fishing boat because of engine problems. Everyone is worried, but the two survive with just bruises. The girl compares Robert’s injuries to those of Grayboy’s, but when they find the gull, he is dead, half-covered in the sand. As the children bury him, they want to cry but don’t because Grayboy gave them a happy summer just as they gave him one. Basing her story on personal experience, the author says, “the book was written to celebrate the beauty and wonder of Peconic Bay, Long Island.” Full-bleed gouache illustrations face each page of boxed, slightly long text that includes additional spot art. They express the sand, water, and warmth of beach days and softly underscore the message of nature appreciation that is also unobtrusively woven into the story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8050-6411-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2002

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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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