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YOUR SKELETON IS SHOWING

RHYMES OF BLUNDER FROM SIX FEET UNDER

The author’s sly humor coupled with the illustrator’s whimsically dark details will surely have primary-grade readers...

Cyrus pens a collection sure to make the most poetry-averse at least smile if not laugh out loud.

A redheaded boy walks through a graveyard pondering the stories of those whose gravestones he passes. A lost ghost dog accompanies him. Each droll poem has an element of the absurd, ludicrous or revolting. Whether the rhyming verse describes a skeleton obsessed with flossing his every bone or chants about Freddie, who picked his nose so much he died, Scrambly cleverly illustrates each unfortunate specter with a style reminiscent of Edward Gorey’s. The backgrounds have a textured look and set off what looks like pen-and-ink drawings with mostly white fill. In the case of “McBuck Buck,” the blue-gray wash of color represents “a pool of community drool.” Even a familiar childhood rhyme provides inspiration: “Hoofprints. Feathers. Piles of dung! / Who is laid below? / Mysterious letters mark the stone: / EIEIO.” As the two wander, it is clear that the ghost pup and narrator are not terribly compatible. Eventually, they come across ghostly Ophelia Heft, who beckons to her dog from the clouds. By the book’s conclusion, though, the boy finds a new canine companion, orphaned when venal Mrs. McBride passed on.

The author’s sly humor coupled with the illustrator’s whimsically dark details will surely have primary-grade readers cackling. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3846-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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