THREE BY THE SEA

A cat, dog and mouse live peacefully in their seaside shack—each doing his or her part to keep the household humming: Cat cleans (between naps), Mouse cooks dinner (cheese fondue only) and Dog busily buries bones. One day, a fox with a briefcase labeled “Winds of Change Trading Company Ltd.” washes ashore on a flower-patterned air mattress, dons his stripey gangster suit and barges into this salty little Eden. With meaningful whispers and strategic gifts, the out-of-the-blue Stranger sows the seeds of discontent. Dog suddenly notices Cat is, perhaps, no Martha Stewart, Cat questions Dog’s somewhat limited garden… and even enthusiasm for Mouse’s daily fondue congeals. A heated fight erupts at dinner! Heartsick Mouse runs away, but, happily, his dramatic near-drowning reunites the torn-apart trio. Still, the winds of change have blown in and enriched their once-complacent lives, infusing this pithy British import with an unusual and thought-provoking message. Grey’s wonderfully expressive, richly textured mixed-media collages leap and bound with funny details (like the “All-Purpose Flakes” box in the kitchen, perfect for both baking and bathing). Vivacious design elements such as comic-strip–like panels for action sequences and cut strips of type for the dialogue in the climactic fight add further fun. The clear, clever text—rendered in a large font—is as fresh and invigorating as the rest. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86784-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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