This picture book and its lyrical text will make readers see fishes in unexpected places.

RAIN FISH

A short rhyming tale merges nature and debris to create art from remains of rainy days.

When the day turns gray and rain starts to fall, “that’s when rain fish come out and play.” From found materials (fallen leaves and feathers and items clearly plucked from the recycling bucket and waste stream), images of fishes are created and depicted at play in the flowing gutters. Through Ehlert’s distinctive collage illustrations and playful text, readers follow the life cycle of rain fishes and are encouraged to wonder where these fishes will go next. The book invites children to look closely at the waste they discard, prompting them to consider how orange peels, ticket stubs, cardboard, bottle caps, cans, and other garbage make their way to the stream—both the waste stream and Ehlert’s fanciful rain-fed stream—and the role of humans in their creation. The collage illustrations of found materials are vivid, although they need to be seen from a distance for readers to truly appreciate them and see the rain fishes, making this ideal for storytime or classroom use. A list of images of discards and debris that were used for the illustrations is appended and should be useful for craft activities after a read-aloud of the book.

This picture book and its lyrical text will make readers see fishes in unexpected places. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6152-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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Chilling in the best ways.

CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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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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