Wonderfully ridiculous in premise and execution and abounding in creative touches, this will surely spark student spinoffs.

OH NO! NOT AGAIN!

(OR HOW I BUILT A TIME MACHINE TO SAVE HISTORY) (OR AT LEAST MY HISTORY GRADE)

Having recovered from the world-destroying science project she created in the first Oh No! (2010), Barnett’s overachiever has a new dilemma: Her history test is returned with one point off for an incorrect answer.

Noting that “Belgium” is not the country where the oldest prehistoric cave paintings exist, she devises a solution completely out of proportion to the problem. Using a “Phun Times” Kiddie Pool as a foundation, she builds a time machine to alter history. After a few glitches (landing in a pre-Neanderthal world and then in the French Revolution), she finds her Belgian cavemen. As in the companion story, the digital compositions are framed with black horizontal borders and marked with white vertical lines to establish a cinematic context. The plot unfolds through speech bubbles, the faux-technical diagrams on graph paper covering the endpapers and the extremely funny actions and expressions of Santat’s caricatures. Children will relish the two cavemen’s antics: They stick paintbrushes in their noses, chomp on the palette and spray paint each other. The duo gives the transporter a spin while the frustrated scholar decorates the cave herself. She emerges to find one sporting Napoleon’s hat, a Roman chariot speeding by and other anachronisms—not to mention an “F” on her test, now that history has been rearranged.

Wonderfully ridiculous in premise and execution and abounding in creative touches, this will surely spark student spinoffs. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-142314912-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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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 nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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