Give this “alphabet caper” an F for Fun.

OOPS, POUNCE, QUICK, RUN!

AN ALPHABET CAPER

Leave it to a cartoonist (in this case, a regular contributor to the New Yorker) to cleverly create a picture book–length comic strip out of the alphabet.

A mouse is Asleep in a chair opposite a hole in the wall when a Ball bounces through the hole into his lap. Next, a Dog’s nose pokes through the hole followed by its Feet, and the chase is on! The mouse Jumps, hiding behind a curtain, but his tail gives him away: Oops! Will this end badly? No, the shrewd mouse gives the dog a wrapped present—a new ball. Each letter appears on one page, typically exemplified by just one word (exceptions are I’ll chase, To Dog, Living room, Very Cool) with the capital letter in a colorful type. The simple line drawings of the gray mouse and brown-eared, yellow-furred dog place the two characters front and center against the white backdrop, dramatizing the action and reactions. Some of the word choices are obvious, such as Pounce, Quick, Run, Wag, and only a few are unexpected: Missing, Nowhere, Unwrap, and Xoxo. Twohy could have gone the traditional route of portraying a cat-and-mouse adventure, but using a dog gives the romp relatively more energy and excitement.

Give this “alphabet caper” an F for Fun. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237700-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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