Warm and winning.



When Margo’s mother expresses her worries, Margo takes her concerns to heart.

Brown-haired, light-skinned Margo seems to be a creative, adventurous child, but her vivid and rather extreme imagination leads her to exaggerate the possible repercussions of her mother’s warnings. Her mother reminds her to be careful not to get sticky while using glue for a project, so Margo immediately pictures herself sticking to everything in sight. She is ready to leap from her swing, but another warning has Margo seeing herself making a very rough landing. Playing jungle explorer in racks of clothing at a store leads to a fear of getting lost. A visit to a pet-adoption center triggers visions of wild, dangerous animals. But a sloppy kiss from a friendly dog brings everything into focus. They are ready to take their new dog home, where they know he will be a perfect fit for their messy, clumsy lives. The text might lead readers to believe that Margo’s mom is a hovering worrier, seeing danger everywhere. But the illustrations depict her as benign and calm, while Margo’s large, expressive brown eyes indicate her terror at every turn, not only thinking twice, but stopping in her tracks every time. Very young readers might be confused at the mixed messages, but the love between mother and daughter shines through, and older readers should grasp the conceit.

Warm and winning. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77147-162-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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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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