Lighthearted entertainment just right for storytime.

READ REVIEW

OCTOPUS ESCAPES!

After the aquarium closes for the night, an adventurous octopus pushes out of its tank to visit neighbors, leaving the guard to clean up its mess.

This engaging, anthropomorphic fantasy includes a short afterword referring not only to the relatively recent octopus escape from the National Aquarium of New Zealand, but to one in England in the 1870s and adding interesting facts about these aquarium stars. While on the lam, the titular Octopus (no gender) playfully threatens crabs and fish, splashes with penguins, steals the otters’ ball to bowl at the approaching guard, is almost caught by a shark, inks, hides, and hurries back to safe shelter in its tank before morning. The simple text (two or three words on a page) relies on cleverly chosen vocabulary, onomatopoeia, and rhyming active verbs—“Octopus peeks. / Octopus streaks. // Octopus smoosh! / Octopus whoosh!”—with other sound effects incorporated into the pictures. Dormer’s engaging illustrations, done in ink with digital color, employ a simple black line. Human skin tones vary; the guard has a greenish yellow face. The octopus’s eyes are correctly placed in its midsection along with an (imagined) expressive smile. Other sea creatures include a sea turtle parent and child who find the octopus antics as amusing as young readers and listeners will.

Lighthearted entertainment just right for storytime. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-795-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original...

A KISSING HAND FOR CHESTER RACCOON

From the Kissing Hand series

A sweetened, condensed version of the best-selling picture book, The Kissing Hand.

As in the original, Chester Raccoon is nervous about attending Owl’s night school (raccoons are nocturnal). His mom kisses him on the paw and reminds him, “With a Kissing Hand… / We’ll never be apart.” The text boils the story down to its key elements, causing this version to feel rushed. Gone is the list of fun things Chester will get to do at school. Fans of the original may be disappointed that this board edition uses a different illustrator. Gibson’s work is equally sentimental, but her renderings are stiff and flat in comparison to the watercolors of Harper and Leak. Very young readers will probably not understand that Owl’s tree, filled with opossums, a squirrel, a chipmunk and others, is supposed to be a school.

Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original shouldn’t look to this version as replacement for their page-worn copies. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-933718-77-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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