Sunnily earnest.

READ REVIEW

MILTON & ODIE AND THE BIGGER-THAN-BIGMOUTH BASS

Polar-opposite otters find camaraderie in this read-aloud.

Grumpy Milton and exuberant Odie are two adorable anthropomorphic otters on parallel ice-fishing pursuits. Dressed in muted greens and grays, Milton finds negativity in the old boot he fishes out of the frozen lake, criticizes his bait, and is less than enthused about crossing paths with the cheery Odie when Milton’s line tugs Odie’s fishing pole out of the water. With an exuberant, red-and-yellow plaid coat and bright blue hat and mittens, Odie sees possibilities and positives as readily as Milton can find the downside in anything. From their meeting, they learn about teamwork and experience a sweet role reversal after some success. While the pair of otters represents a type of emotional binary, the gently repetitive events in the story could well start conversations about ranges of emotions. Warmth is established through images of happy fish swimming beneath Odie (those beneath Milton match his glum mien), Odie’s genuine smile, and emphasized onomatopoeia. Large, unfussy black type creatively shifts to fill negative space or snowy white landscapes. Combine this with Grumpy Pants (2016) by Claire Messer or Bernice Gets Carried Away (2015) by Hannah E. Harrison for a trio of reads that can offer some giggles while exploring emotions and friendship.

Sunnily earnest. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62354-098-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more