Rolf’s granny-ish best friend Mrs. Boggins praises his goodness but cautions him that some wolves are “downright bad.”...



When Rolf, a good little wolf, encounters the archetypal big baddie, justice is nearly—but not quite—served.

Rolf’s granny-ish best friend Mrs. Boggins praises his goodness but cautions him that some wolves are “downright bad.” Promptly, he meets just such a specimen—enormous, jet-black, toothy and yellow-eyed. The Big Bad Wolf instructs Rolf in true wolfishness, and the pup unsuccessfully tries howling at the moon ("pheep!") and blowing Little Pig’s house in. When a wild power does arise in him, Rolf uses it to entangle the large wolf in Mrs. Boggins’ knitting yarn. When the three sit then down amicably for “some tea and cake” Rolf asks if the wolf will stop eating people. “ ‘Oh, I suppose so,’ said the Big Bad Wolf… / ‘I’ll stop first thing tomorrow.’ ” Rolf and Mrs. Boggins are conspicuously absent from that next spread (perturbing, for younger preschoolers). The BBW, belly distended, muses over his cuppa in a green armchair. Shireen’s debut misses the mark by too casually fracturing folkloric elements. When Rolf asks to blow his house in, the Little Pig says “You can try, I suppose,” and even apologizes when Rolf’s effort fails. While the graphically arresting layout features bold-hued, well-telegraphed interplay between childish innocence and lupine malevolence, the depiction of Mrs. Boggins as a frozen-faced, smiling South Park–esque twit further detracts.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86904-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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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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