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ELEPHANTASTIC

A sweet celebration of the imagination.

Inattention results in a potential domestic tragedy in this German import.

Andrew is so busy drawing a treasure map, he really does not hear what Mommy says about delivering the package in the hall to their upstairs neighbors. So when he finally gets to the package, he figures it is for him and opens it. It’s a large stuffed elephant! Its name is Timbo, and it speaks to him! They immediately go on many adventures: climbing mountains, hiking through jungles and dancing in the valleys. This is all illustrated in double-page, full-bleed spreads in which the furniture and artifacts in Andrew’s home transmute themselves into mountains and jungles and valleys, just as they do in children’s play everywhere. When Mommy finds Andrew, she tells him gently that the package was meant for Louise upstairs. Louise is delighted to get her present, but Andrew is heartbroken to leave Timbo behind. His melancholy is solved very neatly when a barefoot Louise comes downstairs to announce that Timbo misses Andrew, and the three have adventures together. Browns and golds dominate the pictures, and children and elephant have button-dot eyes and, for the children, comma noses. Perhaps in keeping with this aesthetic, the faux–hand-lettered type is, unfortunately, small. The household is as much a character as the stuffie and kids, its cozy accoutrements overlaid with Andrew’s (and Timbo’s) imaginations.

A sweet celebration of the imagination. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4413-0841-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peter Pauper Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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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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CAPTAIN AWESOME TO THE RESCUE!

From the Captain Awesome series , Vol. 1

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

The town of Sunnyview got a little bit safer when 8-year-old Eugene McGillicudy moved in.

Just like his comic-book mentor, Super Dude, Eugene, aka Captain Awesome, is on a one-man mission is to save the world from supervillains, like the nefarious “Queen Stinkypants from Planet Baby.” Just as Eugene suspected, plenty of new supervillains await him at Sunnyview Elementary. Are Meredith Mooney and the mind-reading Ms. Beasley secretly working together to try and force Eugene to reveal his secret identity? Will Principal Brick Foot succeed in throwing Captain Awesome into the “Dungeon of Detention?” Fortunately, Eugene isn’t forced to go it alone. Charlie Thomas Jones, fellow comic-book lover and Super Dude fan, stands ready and willing to help. When the class hamster goes missing, Captain Awesome must don his cape and, with the help of his new best friend, ride to the rescue. Kirby’s funny and engaging third-person narration and O’Connor’s hilarious illustrations make the book easily accessible and enormously appealing, particularly to readers who have recently graduated to chapter books. But it is the quirky, mischievous Eugene that really makes this book special. His energy and humor are contagious, and his dogged commitment to his superhero alter ego is enough to make anyone a believer.  

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4090-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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