There’s always room for another take on a classic, especially when done so well.

CITY MOUSE, COUNTRY MOUSE

A new twist on the classic Aesop fable.

When Tansy Mouse meets William Gray, she leads him into her country world of strawberry patches, singing birds, buzzing bees, and fresh air, “soft and sweet.” But when Will describes his city—the shops and restaurants and crowded sidewalks—and invites Tansy, “Come with me!…It’ll be an adventure,” Tansy sets off with him. But Tansy finds city life too crowded and noisy, and Will thinks the city too exciting to leave, so they part ways. However, they discover they were lonely without each other. So, as friends do, Tansy and Will find a compromise, set up housekeeping next to each other in a town between the country and the city, and live “mousily ever after.” Rudy’s intricately constructed miniature tableaux of found materials and felted characters, photographed by her, offer much to pore over, and the double-page spreads depicting pastoral scenes, city streets, and their newfound in-between town are beautifully realized. Even the gestures of the two mice are carefully orchestrated to show emotion. Light and lilting prose complements the illustrations, which are clearly a labor of love.

There’s always room for another take on a classic, especially when done so well. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-616-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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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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