An interesting exploration of animal intelligence for budding zoologists, so long as they take the anthropomorphization with...

ORANGUTAN HOUDINI

Orangutan Fu Manchu makes a monkey out of his zookeepers.

Twelve-year-old orangutan Fu Manchu lives with his family group in a zoo enclosure. After obtaining a length of wire, he figures out how to pick the lock on the door. He lets his family out, and they climb the trees above the elephant corral to enjoy the sun and the leaves. Their afternoon siesta doesn’t last long. Jerry, the head zookeeper, blames his staff for leaving the door unlocked and then returns Fu and his family to the enclosure. The next nice day, they escape again. Jerry and his staff double-check the locks, but Fu has his secret piece of wire. He can escape whenever he wants to, and he does. Jerry continues to blame his staff until they band together and catch Fu using something to pick the lock. But what is it? They can’t find anything he might have used in his pen…until Jerry spies a glint of metal in Fu’s mouth. Neme’s debut for children is based on a true story and a real ape, though she says in an author’s note that some details are speculation—not the least of which are Fu’s thoughts and motivations. Kelleher’s watercolors are realistic enough with a few cartoon touches: A panicked chipmunk and pigeon observe Fu’s initial escape.

An interesting exploration of animal intelligence for budding zoologists, so long as they take the anthropomorphization with a grain of salt. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59373-153-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bunker Hill

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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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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