SCAREDY SQUIRREL GOES CAMPING

From the Scaredy Squirrel series

The world’s most timorous rodent returns for another nonadventure.

Scaredy Squirrel has no desire to go camping—“the rugged wilderness” is just too darn scary. Why, out in the wilderness he might encounter quicksand, the Three Bears, penguins and zippers, among other perils. So he resolves to enjoy camping vicariously, via his new television. But electrical outlets are few and far between in the woods, and it looks like Scaredy will have to venture out through the wilderness to a nearby campground to plug in. He assembles his survival kit (“really long extension cord,” cement, dictionary and fan), dons his “wilderness outfit” (zipper-free), makes a plan, plots a route, does some calisthenics and, when conditions are right (sun = go; volcanic activity = cancel), sets out. All’s going well until—gasp—a penguin (a mini-golf fixture) appears in his path! Scaredy does what he does best: panics and then plays dead. When he wakes, it’s to a glorious sunset and the realization that the wilderness may not be so bad after all. Watt and Scaredy hit all the right notes, hewing to the now-familiar formula. While the execution may no longer be startlingly original, that’s not what Scaredy or his fans are after. The irony of a wilderness-fearing squirrel that lives in the wilderness is especially funny in a camping-avoidance context, and the ending is nothing less than sublime.

Welcome back, Scaredy . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-894786-86-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Chilling in the best ways.

CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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Hee haw.

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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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