Earl and Buddy know the secret of camaraderie and play it out in fine form. (Picture book. 4-7)

READ REVIEW

BUDDY AND EARL

From the Buddy and Earl series

Two creatures find an unlikely friendship when one takes on the role of gagman and the other an unwitting straight man.

It’s raining, and Buddy is bored. Buddy is in the living room, and Buddy isn’t allowed to touch pretty much anything there. Buddy is a dog. The daughter of the house enters with a box containing a ball of sharp quills. The girl leaves. Buddy mooches over to get a closer look. Turns out the ball of quills talks. Call him Earl, says the ball of quills. Buddy asks Earl what he is. Earl suggests a race car. Buddy, though no Einstein, thinks not. Giraffe? No. Talking hairbrush? “Buddy was almost positive that Earl was not a talking hairbrush.” Earl suggests they engage in some no-nos, like jumping on the sofa, then on the coffee table. Buddy’s having too much of a blast to demur. Mom enters. Buddy gets a scolding, but Earl sticks up for him, even though Mom doesn’t appear to hear Earl’s defense of Buddy. Buddy does. And that’s how a dog and a hedgehog become friends in this winning series opener. Fergus’ deadpan text and Sookocheff’s simple, flowing artwork work in elemental harmony, elevating the book to a subliminal sophistication that breathes something quite smart into the proceedings.

Earl and Buddy know the secret of camaraderie and play it out in fine form. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-55498-712-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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