Avoid this confusing fantasy and instead seek out one of the many excellent books that directly discuss the monarch’s...

LITTLE BUTTERFLY

When her cat injures the wing of a monarch butterfly at the opening of this wordless story, the blonde little white girl is delighted to discover that the creature can still fly.

Curling up under her orange cape for a nap in the grass, she is soon covered with a blanket of monarchs, who carry her over land and sea to a grove of trees covered in butterflies. Alighting, she sprouts monarch wings of her own and then, abruptly, is depicted lying on the ground again. Working with pencils and digital media, Logan uses a controlled palette: the butterflies, the girl’s cape, and a few leaves and flowers are orange; the water and occasional patches of sky are blue; everything else is soft gray. A rent in the girl’s cape together with its color connect her visually with the injured butterfly, a detail children will appreciate. They will, however, be puzzled by much else, starting with the story’s ambiguity: is her journey real, or is it a dream? The pictorial clues are mixed. How does the little girl grasp all those butterflies? And, having established the visual leitmotif of the torn wing, Logan disappoints readers by not clearly depicting the girl’s special friend during the fantastical flight. In a note, Logan describes her feeling of wonder at butterfly migration.

Avoid this confusing fantasy and instead seek out one of the many excellent books that directly discuss the monarch’s amazing journey. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-228126-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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