There are roadblocks aplenty, but this still could please hardcore seek-and-find fans.

FOLLOW THAT CAR

Mouse needs to catch Gorilla! Can readers help to get him through the maze of streets in time?

Gorilla drives fast through the busy marketplaces, construction sites, farmland, mountains, and more, but Mouse and his motorcycle are persistent. Bright, busy, Richard Scarry–like compositions create mazes of roads, cars, and critters that lead from page to page as readers are given clues—abetted by strategically placed arrows—as to how Mouse can catch up to Gorilla. Multiple members of a cartoon menagerie reappear throughout but not on every page, making for a fun scavenger hunt as big-eared Mouse chases the fedora-clad Gorilla, whose light beige face, broad chin, and lack of neck are evocative of characters from Family Guy and American Dad. The white arrows are sometimes necessary, as in a very complicated market scene, but at other times they don’t make much sense. In one river scene, for instance, they plot the path on planks of wood laid between boats; here the path is obvious, but readers may be more concerned at the notion of motoring over boaters than delighted. Just why is Mouse in pursuit of Gorilla? That’s benign, but a visual subplot involving a different gorilla seen lurking with a bag of cash on many spreads before being cuffed by turtle cops disappointingly plays into negative stereotypes surrounding black people, apes, and criminality.

There are roadblocks aplenty, but this still could please hardcore seek-and-find fans. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-21220-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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