In a niche that includes elegant, realistic and natural offerings, this is cute.

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HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE

Kapchinske’s picture-book debut is a fact-toting trip through several food chains.

After a snack of a little green beetle, a snake slithers along: “He sang, ‘Hey diddle diddle—I’m feelin’ fine. / Call me cold-blooded, but I’ve got a spine.’ / A hawk looked down a tweetin’ a tune / and said, ‘I’d like some breakfast soon.’ ” The second food chain consists of a frog and a bass, while the last begins with a caterpillar that is eaten by a lizard and ends with a bobcat. The forced incorporation of so many facts comes off as didactic at times, although they will serve to teach readers about the various species. While the verses sometimes falter in their rhythms, which are based loosely on the titular nursery rhyme, the beat is nonetheless rollicking and will likely have readers and listeners alike tapping their toes. Extensive backmatter includes more information and questions that will deepen children’s understanding of food chains and animal classification and adaptations. Rogers’ digitally illustrated animals are slightly cartoonish with too-bright colors and anthropomorphized expressions and body language. Most offputting, this injects human emotions into what is a natural cycle in the animal world.

In a niche that includes elegant, realistic and natural offerings, this is cute. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60718-130-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sylvan Dell

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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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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