“I told you!” Ah...words of gratification.

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A HIPPO IN OUR YARD

Donnelly, a cartoonist for the New Yorker magazine, brings her twisty imagination to strange happenings in Sally’s backyard.

For starters, when Sally goes outside, there’s a hippo in the yard. “Mom, we have a hippo in our yard,” yips Sally, flying through the backdoor. “I don’t think so, dear,” replies Mom, nose buried in the newspaper (there’s a rare touch). Sally returns to the backyard with a little lettuce for the hippo, then spies a tiger in a tree. “Dad, we have a tiger in our tree!” Dad can’t unglue himself from the monitor—though he does offer a rhyme: “No, Sally. That can’t be.” Sally, catching on: “Come see! Come see!” Then Dad lets it crumble: “Maybe later.” Both sib Liz (“Go away”) and Nana (“You can give them some grapes”) find Sally’s claims—zebras! koalas!—a bit far-fetched. They’ll get their comeuppance in this sly take on the unexpected, which celebrates the little subversions in our lives that undermine everyday rules. Donnelly’s ink-and-watercolor artwork has a steady energy, finely choreographed and sure of hand while possessing a delicacy that makes for a nifty encounter between child and beast, while the elders totally lose their cool. Sally has an energetic mop of yellow hair, jeans, and a white T-shirt; the whole family is white.

“I told you!” Ah...words of gratification. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3564-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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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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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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