If not a big somersault, this is a playful bit of fun.

CHEERFUL CHICK

A cheerleading chick can’t rouse enthusiasm among her farmyard pals. Sis-boom-NAH!

Leaving behind 11 siblings in their shells, a newly hatched chick springs from her egg, brandishing pompoms and wearing cheerleaders’ gear—pleated skirt and sweater emblazoned with the varsity letter “C.” Not only does Chick strut fancy moves while yay-ing noisily all day, she also tries to persuade other animals to form a squad to root for the (literal) farm team. Nope. The yolk’s on them: After lapsing into a brief funk, the yellow fluffster decides who needs ’em and resolves to create a one-chick team. Guess who shows up: Unbeknownst to Chick (though sharp-eyed readers will have observed it in the artwork all along), her brothers and sisters have hatched, donned their own cheerleader uniforms (that just happened to have arrived in the mail), and have come to join her, while the erstwhile neigh (and oink, moo, and baa) sayers cheer from the sidelines. This is, fittingly, a cheery romp, narrated in bouncy verse that reads and scans well, though the underlying theme may not resonate. Why are chicks so gung-ho about cheerleading? Are many kids among the target audience even familiar with cheerleading and its conventions? The digitally rendered illustrations, mixed with paints and pencil, are lively and energetic, and animals’ faces are expressive. Cheerleading calls are incorporated into the text in display type.

If not a big somersault, this is a playful bit of fun. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-13418-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Chilling in the best ways.

CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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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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