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

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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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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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