A winner for young sky watchers with stars…or cheese…in their eyes.


With that big ball of cheese hanging so temptingly in the sky, what’s a pair of hungry mice to do?

Marching to a pared-down rhyme of just three or four words per line, Alpaugh’s cute and capable mice determinedly gather tools and materials, design and build a rocket, and blast off. They touch down on a surface more like Roquefort than regolith and emerge from the capsule, equipped with a cleverly designed lunar backhoe: “Landing, standing / on the moon. / that’s one small step— / and one big spoon!” After they’ve stuffed themselves, there’s nothing left for an astonished young human astronomer back on Earth to see but a thin crescent. Presenting white, this child gapes up at the suddenly no-longer-full moon as the mouse astronauts tow their reentry capsule—and one last piece of moon—off the page. There’s lots of humor on the pages, from the mice wielding full-size human tools to a cheese-loving stowaway ant. A Right Stuff head-on view of the spacesuited mice, helmets under their arms, is particularly chuckleworthy. The venture recalls Andy Mansfield’s Journey to the Moon (2015), with its similarly cheesy climax, but it also pairs well with other extraterrestrial trips such as Dan Yaccarino’s Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I’m Off to the Moon! (1997; tragically, out of print) and Nancy Shaw and Margo Apple’s Sheep Blast Off! (2008).

A winner for young sky watchers with stars…or cheese…in their eyes. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7553-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Hee haw.

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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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A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.


From the Fly Guy series

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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