Excellent visual storytelling aligned with eloquent brevity.

I AM BAT

A comical fruit bat addresses readers about its beloved cherries, not guessing they will soon disappear.

From the simple, funny cover to the final, wordless page, this book is a quirky gem. The art has the appearance of simple woodblock prints. The black-winged, gray-bodied bat has thin, pointy, white teeth that issue alternately from a pencil-thin smile or a grimace and little black eyes with thin, expressive, black eyebrows. Its first words, as it hangs upside-down against an avocado green background, are: “I AM BAT. I do not like mornings.” On the opposite page, against solid yellow, it smiles, its wings full of red orbs with green stems, and says, “I like CHERRIES.” It goes on to describe its love of cherries, and then, with a Dracula-like sweep of wings, it warns readers that no one should take its cherries. There follow several pages of humorous, fruit-bat bravado. Although there is no gender ascribed to Bat, many caregivers will feel an urge to read it in imitation of the legendary Bela Lugosi. As cherries disappear, readers see subtle evidence of which animals are taking them. Bat’s proclamation of eternal unhappiness is quickly reversed by a thief-engineered fruit replacement. Old and young alike will have to giggle at the bat’s show of speedy adaptability.

Excellent visual storytelling aligned with eloquent brevity. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6032-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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