A straightforward plot propels this British import briskly through an eventful evening. Warduff, a fat black cat whose torn...

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WARDUFF AND THE CORNCOB CAPER

A group of anthropomorphized farm animals threatened by a fox turn to a clever cat to protect them.

A straightforward plot propels this British import briskly through an eventful evening. Warduff, a fat black cat whose torn ear suggests a violent past, wakes to a call from Fefferflap the goose. A fox has been seen slinking around. Somewhat unexpectedly, Warduff uses brains, not brawn, to come up with a plan to scare away the fox and keep the animals safe. Much of the humor and nuance come from Head’s digitally created illustrations. Warduff’s phone, for example, is of the simple can-and-string variety (the can’s label reads “Fatty Cat Mouse Morsels in Fish Jelly”), while the receiver clutched by Fefferflap appears to be a miniature pink pig with a very long curly tail. Head employs simple silhouettes and stylized shapes to create his animal characters and pastoral landscape. All of the animals have wide, staring eyes, which convey a surprising range of emotions. Unfortunately, the illustration of the clever trick that convinces Snipe the fox to hightail it out of town may not work quite as well for readers, but they’ll still be tickled by the elaborate planning of “Operation Corncob.”

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8095-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Andersen Press USA

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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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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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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