This odd story is not for every reader, but those who enjoy it may find a friend for life

WILD HONEY FROM THE MOON

A determined mother embarks on a surreal adventure.

Kraegel’s format-defying tale is an unexpected story of love, determination, and parenting. Mother Shrew’s son, Hugo, is taken ill on the last day of January with a rare illness that makes him lethargic, with hot feet and a cold head. From “Dr. Ponteluma’s Book of Medical Inquiry and Physiological Know-How,” Mother Shrew learns that the only cure for this odd, unnamed illness is a spoonful of honey from the moon. Ferociously determined to cure Hugo, she sets out to save her son. In each new chapter, Mother Shrew faces a new obstacle or not-too-scary adversary as she braves the moon’s unusual environment—its verdant fields and lush forests make a stark contrast to the wintry landscape Mother Shrew has left behind—and its madcap inhabitants. Divided into seven heavily illustrated chapters, the story is one that will captivate contemplative and creative young readers. Caregivers may find this to be their next weeklong bedtime story and one that fanciful children will want to hear again and again. Kraegel’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations are reminiscent of Sergio Ruzzier’s but a bit grittier and with a darker color scheme. The surreal landscapes are appropriately unsettling, but a bright color palette keeps them from overwhelming readers.

This odd story is not for every reader, but those who enjoy it may find a friend for life . (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8169-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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