Look—and laugh out loud.

THE BEAR WHO WASN'T THERE

Where is Bear? Here, there, anywhere?

A zany assortment of animals, among them a conceited author-duck suffering from major ursine jealousy and an animal who signs its name ANONYMOUSE, all offer commentary, directions, and advice on bear-spotting in colorful speech bubbles. Readers in this very interactive title are invited to open a door only to find an embarrassed giraffe seated on the toilet. A boar, not a bear, holding a pear shares a page with a “bare hare.” Bear’s paw prints march across the pages, and he is seen posing majestically in a silhouetted shadow. But look closely at one leg held aloft in a graceful arabesque. Yes, it is not Bear but Duck’s Amazing Bird Pyramid. Even the paint-speckled author/illustrator joins in the quest as she stares in astonishment at the crowded two-page spread of her very own creatures, including a broom-wielding crocodile who loves to sweep—but no Bear. Finally: “WE FOUND HIM!!!” Or did we? Pham’s colorful digital illustrations against white pages depict moose, mice, and many other entertaining critters. Readers are encouraged to explore, pore over details, and follow the comical clues. The wordplay is delightfully nonsensical.

Look—and laugh out loud. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59643-970-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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