Less exposition and more skateboarding activity (and maybe a glossary) would have been welcome, but Gnarbunga's quirky and...

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GNARBUNGA

Can an icky, sticky monster make friends?

One day, from "a mucky, messy hole in the ground" emerges Gnarbunga! He looks a little like the Michelin tire man but all black, with ping-pong-ball eyes and jaws like razor blades. The kids think he's really cool—they love getting sludgy—but most of the adults, not so much. (Construction workers, who are a little icky already, are the one exception.) Gnarbunga needs something to do. Various children suggest music, art, books; the suggestion that really ignites Gnarbunga's interest is skateboarding. In short order, he's decked out in helmet, pads and special shoes, then picks a deck, wheels and trucks. Soon he's playing at the skate park with his new friends. He apologizes to the people who don't like getting icky and spends hours at the park learning the best tricks. He can kick-flip over a cat, do a boneless over an ice-cream cone, and even do inverts. Soon everyone is shouting his name. Bromley tucks a nice amount of skateboard slang into his story. His eye-catching digital illustrations are appealing, with only three colors: black, pale purple and flat yellow. Their stiffness and simplicity have a satiric charge, which may elude the very young.

Less exposition and more skateboarding activity (and maybe a glossary) would have been welcome, but Gnarbunga's quirky and lovable nonetheless. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-907967-14-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boxer Books

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun.

CLOTHESLINE CLUES TO JOBS PEOPLE DO

From the Clothesline Clues series

Heling and Hembrook’s clever conceit challenges children to analyze a small town’s clotheslines to guess the job each of their owners does. 

Close-up on the clothesline: “Uniform and cap, / an invite for you. / Big bag of letters. / What job does she do?” A turn of the page reveals a macro view of the home, van and the woman doing her job, “She is a mail carrier.” Indeed, she can be spotted throughout the book delivering invitations to all the rest of the characters, who gather at the end for a “Launch Party.” The verses’ rhymes are spot-on, though the rhythm falters a couple of times. The authors nicely mix up the gender stereotypes often associated with several of these occupations, making the carpenter, firefighter and astronaut women. But while Davies keeps uniforms and props pretty neutral (he even avoids U.S. mail symbols), he keeps to the stereotypes that allow young readers to easily identify occupations—the farmer chews on a stalk of wheat; the beret-wearing artist sports a curly mustache. A subdued palette and plain white backgrounds keep kids’ focus on the clothing clues. Still, there are plenty of details to absorb—the cat with arched back that anticipates a spray of water, the firefighter who “lights” the rocket.

Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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