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THE WOLF WHO SOLVED THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING MASK

Beware: an unquestioningly Eurocentric salute to brick-and-mortar museums.

Wolf’s reluctant visit to a museum turns out to be exciting in more ways than anyone could have foreseen.

“There once was a wolf who didn’t like museums. ‘Museums are boring,’ he told everyone.” In fact, when Wolf’s animal friends show up to invite him, he goes along solely for the company of curly-lashed lupine Wolfette. Wolf and friends are cartoons with wide, round eyes, wearing a few human accessories. The first museum room is a double-page spread of an art gallery, containing portraits with humorous, wolflike resemblance to world-famous subjects. Older readers will chuckle at the artists’ names, which include Leonardo da Wolfinci and Wolfmeer. Wolf soon meets museum guard Barnabas, a rat in a blue uniform. Barnabas begins to help Wolf appreciate the artwork until he learns that a “tribal mask” has disappeared from its pedestal in the "early art" gallery. Searching for the mask, the two new friends move past interactive exhibits, natural history dioramas, dinosaur skeletons, and more. Barnabas imparts museum etiquette and wisdom to Wolf as Wolf uses logic and observation to track down and expose the thief. Wolf evolves from indifferent visitor to active promoter, and even the thief finds museum-inspired happiness. The lack of specificity around non-European cultures in both text and illustrations, and the unfortunate—if not downright racist—implications behind the simian-appearing thief’s reasons for stealing the generic “tribal mask” mar the intended endorsement of museums.

Beware: an unquestioningly Eurocentric salute to brick-and-mortar museums. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-2-7338-6740-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Auzou Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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CAPTAIN AWESOME TO THE RESCUE!

From the Captain Awesome series , Vol. 1

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

The town of Sunnyview got a little bit safer when 8-year-old Eugene McGillicudy moved in.

Just like his comic-book mentor, Super Dude, Eugene, aka Captain Awesome, is on a one-man mission is to save the world from supervillains, like the nefarious “Queen Stinkypants from Planet Baby.” Just as Eugene suspected, plenty of new supervillains await him at Sunnyview Elementary. Are Meredith Mooney and the mind-reading Ms. Beasley secretly working together to try and force Eugene to reveal his secret identity? Will Principal Brick Foot succeed in throwing Captain Awesome into the “Dungeon of Detention?” Fortunately, Eugene isn’t forced to go it alone. Charlie Thomas Jones, fellow comic-book lover and Super Dude fan, stands ready and willing to help. When the class hamster goes missing, Captain Awesome must don his cape and, with the help of his new best friend, ride to the rescue. Kirby’s funny and engaging third-person narration and O’Connor’s hilarious illustrations make the book easily accessible and enormously appealing, particularly to readers who have recently graduated to chapter books. But it is the quirky, mischievous Eugene that really makes this book special. His energy and humor are contagious, and his dogged commitment to his superhero alter ego is enough to make anyone a believer.  

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4090-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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