While there are plenty of picture books that feature unlikely friendships, young listeners will be pleased to make the...

MOUSE AND HIPPO

Two anthropomorphic animals meet unexpectedly and quickly become friends despite their differences.

Mouse is placidly painting atop a rock when suddenly it shakes, and Mouse is thrown into the lake. Struggling and sputtering, Mouse is rescued by Hippo, the “rock.” Grateful for the help and flattered by Hippo’s praise, Mouse decides to paint a picture of Hippo. Hippo, inspired, returns the favor. Their enthusiasm for each other’s extremely original, if unconventional, artistic efforts cements their friendship. The straightforward plot is conveyed entirely in dialogue with individualized typefaces and colors used to distinguish the speakers. This variation serves to emphasize the characters’ physical differences (brown-furred Mouse’s is spindly and brown; gray Hippo’s is gray and chunky) as well as making it easy to follow the action. Although the story moves along briskly, Twohy effectively creates distinct—and distinctly charming—personalities for his characters through their speech. He also showcases their creativity and problem-solving without being in the least didactic. His crisp, cartoon-style illustrations complement and extend the humorous text. Bright colors, black outlines, and plenty of white space keep the focus squarely on his two protagonists.

While there are plenty of picture books that feature unlikely friendships, young listeners will be pleased to make the acquaintance of these two cheerful creatures and, quite possibly, inspired to view the world in engaging new ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5124-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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

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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

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