GINGER BEAR

This sweet little offering blends “The Gingerbread Man” with Where the Wild Things Are to delicious effect. The tale opens with Horace, who makes Ginger Bear and is then cruelly thwarted by his Mum in his attempts to eat his treat. But then the focus shifts to Ginger Bear, who, like Horace, makes some cookies, but wants friends, not food. He bakes a circus full of them, but when Bongo the dog makes short work of the sweets, Ginger Bear realizes he needs to find a place where he can be safe. Grey brings all of her graphic inventiveness to bear on her story, investing Ginger Bear with terrific personality and pathos. By shifting narrative gears from Horace to Ginger Bear, she engineers a radical change in the reader’s understanding of the true protagonist of the tale, Ginger Bear’s agency initially coming as something of a surprise but then seeming oh-so-right as he, like Max, oversees his rumpus and then seeks safe harbor. Life’s not simple for a cookie, but Ginger Bear, unlike his folkloric predecessor, manages quite nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 12, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-375-84253-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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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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ROOM ON THE BROOM

Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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