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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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