CHIRRI & CHIRRA, UNDERGROUND

From the Chirri & Chirra series , Vol. 4

In this Japanese import, the winsome, bike-riding twins from Chirri & Chirra in the Tall Grass (2017) are back for another gently surreal adventure.

Dring-dring, dring-dring!” Upon hearing mysterious noises from the cellar, Chirri and Chirra hop on their bikes and pedal into a hole they find dug into one of its walls. They come across “an underground peanut farm” worked entirely by industrious moles, who harvest, shell, roast, and package the legumes. After enjoying “two cones of peanut soft-serve, warm and fresh as can be,” Chirri and Chirra are off again, stopping in “an underground flower garden” tended by mayflies and pedaling beneath a vegetable garden—parsnips, a turnip, leeks, carrots, and beets can be seen in cross-section—before finding their quarry: three badger children who took a wrong turn into their cellar and their parents. The badgers lead them to an underground lake for a boat ride before offering them a meal of “fried root vegetables” and “blue soup” and finally digging them a new tunnel up into the pink dawn. Doi employs her trademark approach, soft colored pencils on textured paper giving the illustrations the cozy appearance of lithographs, a mood furthered by the book’s diminutive trim. The twins are identical, with black pageboys, dot eyes, pudgy, rosy cheeks, and Mona Lisa smiles; their delight in the wonders they encounter is pure, unquestioning, and totally infectious.

Another charmer. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59270-244-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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