Unlike Maurice Sendak’s Pierre, Duckworth has no lesson to learn; readers can decide for themselves whether he’s highly...

READ REVIEW

DUCKWORTH, THE DIFFICULT CHILD

The difference between a snake and a snake costume is pretty big.

Duckworth is a human boy who wears knickers and stockings and whose hairstyle can only be described as a comb-forward. He’s playing contentedly in his room when a massive, orange-patterned snake slithers out of the closet. Duckworth goes downstairs and informs his parents, but Mother and Father are busy reading a book called Dealing with Your Difficult Child. They consider the snake a figment of Duckworth’s imagination—and even when the snake swallows Duckworth and comes downstairs, they insist it’s merely Duckworth wearing a snake costume. Duckworth, intact and articulate inside the snake, explains the situation, but his parents cleave to the parenting book’s philosophy that Duckworth’s “fantasies will go away if we ignore them.” As the snake sits at the dinner table, Duckworth’s bodily outline can be seen inside the snake’s midsection, far away from the table. The family has no meeting of the minds. Eventually, Duckworth extricates himself from the snake—none the worse for wear—and considers seeking a book about dealing with difficult parents. Sardà’s illustrations blend a gothic sensibility with an art deco style, highlighting geometrical patterns, sharp angles, and a lot of orange and gray. People’s skin color comes from the flat white background paper.

Unlike Maurice Sendak’s Pierre, Duckworth has no lesson to learn; readers can decide for themselves whether he’s highly imaginative or merely unflappable when swallowed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0512-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Caldecott Honor Book

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more