Silly, warm and inviting, the six-and-1/2 short episodic chapters are just right for reading aloud as well as for beginning...

READ REVIEW

HOORAY FOR AMANDA & HER ALLIGATOR!

An exploration of the nature of surprises between good friends.

The point of view belongs firmly with Amanda’s stuffed alligator, whose patience wears thin whenever Amanda is away and he is waiting for her return, and whose generosity is taxed when Amanda brings home a new stuffed panda from a zoo visit. Resourceful Amanda plows through a stack of library books with enticing titles (Whale Songs for BeginnersYou Can Make It Yourself: Jet Packs!) as her alligator thinks of ways to engage her attention. When Alligator begins chewing on Amada’s head, she tells him “Books beat boredom,” but he still thinks her head tastes better than a book. Alligator’s worry over his price tag (he came from the sale bin) and the introduction of the new “friend” add emotional complexity to the simple friendship tale.  The pacing, word volume and wide trim size are all inviting and encouraging, bringing readers close to the cozy friendship between Amanda and her impatient stuffed friend. The figures are set against plenty of white space, giving them an appealing kinetic energy and encouraging the eye to move, or sometimes gallop, across the page.

Silly, warm and inviting, the six-and-1/2 short episodic chapters are just right for reading aloud as well as for beginning readers who are steady on their reading feet. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-200400-0

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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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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