There’s trouble brewing in the barnyard, and it’s up to Ducktective Web and his faithful sidekick Bill to sort it out. In Palatini’s (Mooseltoe, 2000, etc.) highly referential and pun-filled plot, the two dauntless ducks try to track down the culprit who stole a peck of the hen’s perfect purple, almost-pickled peppers. No, it’s not who you think, although the web-footed flatfoots encounter several familiar characters when the usual suspects are interrogated: a cornered Horner and the boy in blue frantically offer up alibis in a police station filled with blind mice and mittenless kittens, among others. Punctuated by a soundtrack—“DUM DE DUM DUM”—the plot takes the quacking coppers from crime scene to crime scene, till at last they catch up with . . . That Dirty Rat (“Book him, Ducko”). Egielski’s (Three Magic Balls, 2000, etc.) trademark cartoony illustrations depict a crowded, uncannily urban barnyard in which horses wear suits and helmets as they commute to work on bicycles, and a high-rise coop looms over the hen’s house. His stern Ducktective Web bears a remarkable resemblance to Sergeant Joe Friday. Paced breathlessly, related in a deadpan first-person narration by the Ducktective himself, the story’s outrageous silliness will tickle children—even as the references to old TV detective shows will delight the adults who read it to them. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7868-0419-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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