A “stupendiferous, cosmically colossal” good time for all.

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IF WENDELL HAD A WALRUS

Working to recruit a walrus as a playmate, a small boy living near the ocean serendipitously discovers a new friend.

When young Wendell spies a walrus-shaped cloud, he imagines having a real walrus named Roger. They would tell jokes, ride bikes, climb trees, build forts, fly kites, draw, and “have the most stupendiferous, cosmically colossal best time of their lives.” After a trip to Uncle Zed’s Pet Emporium fails to produce a walrus, Wendell resorts to tossing a bottle with his personal invitation to a walrus into the ocean. On an adjoining cliff, Wendell notices a boy named Morrell tossing his own letter to a whale into the waves. Waiting by the ocean, Wendell and Morrell eventually decide “to pass the time together,” eventually doing everything they’d imagined doing with a walrus and a whale. Sprightly, lighthearted illustrations capture Wendell’s infectious energy and enthusiasm in loose pencil outlines against pale, expansive watercolor washes denoting hillsides, ocean, and sky. Humorous vignettes of the ever optimistic Wendell playing with an imaginary Roger, oblivious to the impracticalities of a walrus biking, tree-climbing, fort-building, kite-flying, or drawing, prove highly amusing, while scenes of Wendell, too absorbed in his walrus quest to notice Morrell’s parallel whale hunt, suggest the upbeat finale. Wendell has red hair and pale skin; Morrell has tightly curled black hair and brown skin.

A “stupendiferous, cosmically colossal” good time for all. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62779-602-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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