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THE REPTILE CLUB

This testament to imagination, confidence, and entrepreneurship offers refreshing takes on learning about animals and how to...

New kid Rory hasn’t found a school club he wants to join, so he starts his own, for kids who share one of his interests: the Reptile Club.

Lots of kids like animals—and he’s certain lots of kids like reptiles—so he has high hopes, making posters and bringing in his plastic reptiles and lizard-shaped cookies. Here, what has so far seemed like a fairly run-of-the-mill school story takes a literally wild and fantastical turn when the first participants arrive: not fellow reptile lovers but a crocodile, a snake, and a lizard. The animals introduce themselves and offer some interesting facts. The crocodile tells Rory he sweats through his mouth, for example. When the other students see how much fun the interspecies group is having, “they couldn’t wait to join,” and Rory’s goal is achieved. Rory is a red-haired white child; the classroom is a multicultural group in which boys and girls alike participate in the Prancing Unicorn Club as well as the Extra Math Homework Club. Ellis’ digital artwork replicates a scratchy, penciled look, which suits the energetic, imaginative story. As winter approaches, the reptiles must leave, imparting one last animal fact: “Reptiles can’t tolerate the cold.” Delightfully, this does not spell the end of Rory’s friendships.

This testament to imagination, confidence, and entrepreneurship offers refreshing takes on learning about animals and how to make friends. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77138-655-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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THE COOL BEAN MAKES A SPLASH

From the I Can Read! series

Another quirky take on the series theme that it’s cool to be kind.

The cool beans again step up to do a timorous fellow legume a fava…this time at the pool.

Will a rash decision to tackle the multistory super-slide lead to another embarrassing watery fail for our shy protagonist? Nope, for up the stairs right behind comes a trio of cool beans, each a different type and color, all clad in nothing but dark shades. They make an offer: “It’s not as scary if you go with friends!” As the knobby nerd explains once the thrilling ride down is done, “They all realized that I just needed some encouragement and support.” Just to make sure that both cool and uncool readers get the message, the narrator lets us know that “there are plenty of kind folks who have my back. They’re always there when I need them.” The beany bonhomie doesn’t end at the bottom of the slide, with all gliding down to the shallow end of the pool (“3 INCHES. NO DIVING”) for a splashy finale. This latest early reader starring characters from John and Oswald’s immensely popular Food Group series will be a hit with fans. Fun accessories, such as a bean who rocks pink cat-eye frames, add some pizzazz to the chromatically and somatotypically varied cast.

Another quirky take on the series theme that it’s cool to be kind. (Easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9780063329560

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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