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

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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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 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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