Half-cooked, with superior artwork trumping a drab, cowardly narrative.

READ REVIEW

LAIKA

ASTRONAUT DOG

Laika, the Russian space dog, gets uneven handling.

Back when the Cold War was going strong and Nikita Khrushchev wanted to give JFK the yips, the Russians plucked a stray dog off the streets of Moscow—figuring the stray would be well-versed in survival tactics—and shot the dog into space in Sputnik 2. The spacecraft failed; the dog died. This last part is background information supplied in an author’s note. In the main narrative, Davey rewrites this part, sweeping Laika aboard a flying saucer and whisking her to a planet of people with red hair and blue skin. Otherwise, he stays close to the known history but with clunky prose for so romantic a story. “She trained very hard and had to pass many tests until finally... / Laika was ready to go into space. She climbed aboard her spaceship and waited.” It all comes up daisies in the end for Laika and Davey, the whole soft-pedaling given amplified sweetness by the artwork, a highly stylized gathering of strong color and shadow, loopy lines and angles, and for much of the book, the illustrations speak for themselves.

Half-cooked, with superior artwork trumping a drab, cowardly narrative. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6822-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • New York Times Bestseller

CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

more