When the author suggests that the recipe “can be a favorite in your family, too,” many people in the audience will be...

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TOADS ON TOAST

Toads are not a breakfast food.

You’re an elementary school teacher. You hold up this picture book. Exactly half of your students say, “Ewwwww!” Exactly half look delighted. So half the class will be pleased to find out that no toads are eaten in the course of this book. Mamma Toad throws herself in front of the recipe book before Fox can cook anybody. “Wait!” she calls out. “There must be a better recipe.” Jack draws each ingredient as it goes into the pan: an egg, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, bread and butter, no toads. Some of your students will want to start cooking before you’ve finished the book, and fortunately, Mamma Toad’s Secret Toad-in-a-Hole Recipe appears at the end of the story. The words “1 toad” are crossed out. A few students will be disappointed by this, but they’ll love the pictures of the swarming baby toads getting into food fights and jumping in the honey pot while Fox cooks dinner. And whether they’re for or against a toad diet, almost 100 percent of your students will want to hear the book again.

When the author suggests that the recipe “can be a favorite in your family, too,” many people in the audience will be inclined to believe it. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55453-662-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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