Take this off the shelf to share with primary-grade students who are navigating the ever changing landscape of friendship.

SECOND BANANA

Under the big top, the show must go on, but the relationship between a spotlight-grabbing monkey and the amiable gorilla that assists him is ripe for a change.

“The Amazing Bubbles was the star of the circus. / Oop was not.” The grinning, diminutive monkey is the focus of every act, but huge and helpful Oop always works behind the scenes. She is “the pool filler-upper, tire pumper-upper, music holder-upper, and fuse lighter-upper,” but she longs for her turn to be a star. Bubbles dismisses the idea: “You silly gorilla! Think of us as bananas. Obviously, I am the Top Banana. The Big Banana. Numero Uno Banana. You are Second Banana.” But a mishap leaves Bubbles with a boo-boo, and Oop eagerly comes forward to help. The results are less than optimal. When Oop launches out of the cannon with such power that she bursts through the tent, disaster appears imminent—but “far below, a pair of skinny arms reached up for her.” Readers will relate to the uneven friendship dynamics softened with humor. Graves deftly uses pencil and digital color to illustrate the range of Oop’s emotions as well as the duo’s antics. Happily, Bubbles and Oop remain pals, and their relationship evolves—but there always seems to be the need for a second banana.

Take this off the shelf to share with primary-grade students who are navigating the ever changing landscape of friendship. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-883-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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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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