A ray of sunshine—for readers and (most) squirrels.

GUESS WHAT!?

From the Unlimited Squirrels series , Vol. 4

The Unlimited Squirrels hit the beach—“squirrel-style."

When three squirrels stick their heads through the frame to say hello, Zoom Squirrel bursts out: “GUESS WHAT!?” Surprised, the three squirrels collapse in a heap. Zoom Squirrel reveals that they are “going to the beach in seven days.” The countdown continues day after day as Zoom Squirrel hypes their trip through song, dance, and bragging. But when Wonder Squirrel wonders what Zoom Squirrel will do at the beach, Zoom Squirrel’s excitement turns to nervousness. Zoom Squirrel doesn’t know what to do! When beach day finally comes, Zoom Squirrel’s pals show what they like to do: playing in the sand, playing with the beach ball, and playing by the water. Zoom Squirrel tries it all. Nothing works out. But what’s one “bad day” after a “great week” of anticipation? As with others in the series, Willems’ fourth entry reads like a variety show with one “BIG Story” followed by short one-offs. Excellent comedic timing, expressive cartoon characters, and corny jokes keep the tone light and fun. Color-coded speech bubbles, “emote-acorns,” and bolded words help support readers in their decoding. The metafictive ending will give them a sense of accomplishment. Series fans won’t encounter anything new besides the countdown, which cleverly helps reinforce the concept of time. The “Beach Day!” and “Research Rodent!” pages add nonfiction elements and direct readers to the series website for more information.

A ray of sunshine—for readers and (most) squirrels. (sheet music) (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-07093-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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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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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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