BIG MEAN MIKE

A warning: This book may make you like cute bunnies.

Big Mean Mike likes monster-truck shows. This is puzzling, because he’s bigger than some of the trucks. Big Mean Mike wears combat boots he bought at a store called Big Boots. Mike, it’s worth noting, is a dog, with a spiked collar. Mike should never own a bunny, but small, cute bunnies keep appearing in his sports car. One shows up in his trunk. Another shows up in his glove compartment. To Knudsen’s credit, this is never explained. Magoon has made the bunnies exactly as adorable as they need to be. They’re never cloying, but they’re fuzzy and round, and readers will feel embarrassed for Mike when he has to carry them past his friends, who are wearing muscle shirts and the occasional eye patch. The small details may be the real reason to buy the book. The grille of Mike’s car looks like the teeth of a shark. One of the toughest dogs has a cat’s skull and crossbones on his shirt, along with the words “HERE, KITTY, KITTY.” And every young reader will spot the Batmobile at the edge of a parking lot. When Mike finally learns to love his bunnies, the illustrations have set up the moment perfectly. They look like they belong together. Even the toughest readers will crumble under the appeal of these bunnies. (Picture book. 4-8)  

 

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4990-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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