BOW-WOW BUGS A BUG

A little black speck of a bug leads a feisty yellow terrier on an increasingly surreal trip around his neighborhood in a brilliantly whimsical wordless romp. When the bug descends on Bow-Wow’s dog dish, a scowl descends on his features and off he sets to teach it a lesson. Comic-strip panels advance the action with perfect pacing, the Photoshopped sameness of Bow-Wow’s suburban neighborhood providing a bland, impossibly regular background to ever more zany situations, which include meeting mirror images of himself and the bug, encountering giant-sized versions of both himself and the bug and armies of bug-pursuing dogs and dog-pursuing bugs. Long shots and close-ups hilariously assist in the progress of the narrative, cinematic convention adapting perfectly to the medium. The aforementioned blandly regular background combines with bold, clean lines and a sunnily uncomplicated palette to keep what might in other hands be a rather terrifying journey into 1950s horror/sci fi from overwhelming young readers. Call it a kinder, gentler Twilight Zone in which the doughty protagonist is allowed to return home to bowl and bed at the end of the day. Thoroughly inspired. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: June 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-15-205813-5

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2007

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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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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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