FOX EYES

Fox eyes stare compellingly from the jacket; more eyes lurk in the dusky brush of the title page; and then—with "There was once a spy, a red fox who came to spy on the opossums"—just one eye, set in red fur, "gleams" at the sleeping animals through a hole. But the possums too, looking sly, have "one eye open"-and, throughout, your gaze will be caught not only by the fox eyes peeking and peering at—in turn—a rabbit, a squirrel, a bear, a dog, and a group of children, but also by the spooked, returning stares of the fuzzy animals he so disturbs. Each feels that the fox has somehow caught him out. . . and readers too get the eerie feeling that this all-knowing eye is ubiquitous. But it all comes to nothing when ". . . the fox just yawned. . . and went to sleep. . . . For, of course, the fox could never remember the next day what he had seen the day before." But the words and pictures have generated so much watchful apprehension that this news comes less as reassurance than as let-down. And to be further toyed with at the turn of the last page—"But no one knows that but the fox"—is merely disconcerting. A 1951 edition, with stylized illustrations by Jean Chariot, failed to take hold; Garth Williams' naturalistic, softer animals make the odd story all the more unsettling.

Pub Date: April 1, 1977

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1977

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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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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