Another funny, visually rollicking work from the creator of Chester (2007) and Scaredy Squirrel (2006). (Picture book. 4-8)

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BUG IN A VACUUM

A bug flies indoors, is sucked into a vacuum, and experiences the five stages of grief while entrapped.

The narrative plays it straight, but the double-page spreads—over 40 of them—tell a far livelier story. When the fly’s first imprisoned amid thick dust and sucked-up detritus, it denies and deflects: “Doesn’t get much cozier than this… / Can’t wait to tell my friends about this place!” Watt, formerly in advertising, packages each successively introduced stage as a product. “Bargaining” is a box of laundry detergent, while “Anger” is a retro-looking TV dinner. She includes a clever, visually parallel story about the household’s dachshund, whose favorite toy, a knitted, button-eyed dog, suffers the same fate as the bug. As the highly dramatic insect emotes through the five stages, using the bits and pieces it’s been sucked up with as imaginative props, the dog experiences them silently. In the “Anger” section, as the fly creates a ruckus inside, the dog attacks the vacuum, seeking his toy’s liberation. The “Acceptance” phase coincides with the discarding of the now-busted machine at the dump. There, the toy is regurgitated, and the fly emerges through the proverbial tunnel of light. A final spread shows the dog cavorting with a new canine acquaintance, while above, its former toy warms a bird’s nest of eggs.

Another funny, visually rollicking work from the creator of Chester (2007) and Scaredy Squirrel (2006). (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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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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