Overlooking (again) the association of Chinese names with a tired joke, this may put a few first-day fears to rest, and it...

CHU'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Gaiman continues his sneeze pun in this look at a worried panda cub’s first day of school.

Chu’s expressed school worries are limited to “What will happen?” “Will they be nice?” and “Will they like me?” though the new student’s concerns (and his posture and facial expressions) will be familiar to any child facing school for the first time. Chu’s new teacher has a “friendly face,” and his animal classmates—ranging from a rhino and a giraffe down to a crab, a snake and a snail—all seem nice. The first activity the class does is to sit in a circle and tell their new friends their names and what they love to do best; the teacher writes their names on the chalkboard. (Fans of Chu’s Day will see the punch line coming.) Their talents and things they love are wide-ranging—climbing trees, singing, reading books—but none is as unusual as Chu’s. After two wordless double-page spreads depicting both the post-sneeze surprise and destruction and subsequent recovery and delight, Chu drolly says, “That’s what I do.” Rex’s oil-and–mixed-media illustrations capture the complex feelings that accompany the first day of school, and Chu is believable when he tells his parents, “I’m not worried anymore.”

Overlooking (again) the association of Chinese names with a tired joke, this may put a few first-day fears to rest, and it will probably also cause some tension-relieving laughter. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-222397-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

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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