Technically accomplished art plus uncomplicated characters, plot and theme (depressingly timely) add up to a likely crowd...

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OTIS AND THE TORNADO

From the Otis series

The Little Tractor That Could introduced in Otis (2009) gets another chance to shine when a violent weather event requires a daring rescue.

Standing out against neutral-toned bucolic backdrops plainly modeled on Thomas Hart Benton’s farmscapes, Otis and his livestock friends delight in games of Follow-the-Leader—all, that is, except the penned-up bull, who greets all approaches with snarling hostility. When the winds rise and a tornado threatens, Otis hustles the animals to a dry gully…then hears the bull’s frightened bellow. Bravely racing—“putt puff puttedy chuff”—out into the storm, Otis breaks down the gate and, just in time, leads the terrified bovine bully to safety. Fronting Otis with an expressive face and depicting the angry bull from low angles to give him massive, monumental presence, Long once again places anthropomorphic figures with distinct identities in large-scale settings that have an antique look but a timeless feel. The simply told narrative likewise has a classic air: “Soon the horse would trot to the lead with a ‘Neigh, neigh,’ as his hooves clip-clop-clip-clopped.” The episode ends with a traditional resolution too, as discreetly used color highlights expand in the final scene to a brightly sunlit view of Otis leading friends—including the reformed bull—in a fresh parade through flower-strewn fields.

Technically accomplished art plus uncomplicated characters, plot and theme (depressingly timely) add up to a likely crowd pleaser. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25477-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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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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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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