GROUNDHOG GETS A SAY

It’s Feb. 3rd and no one is paying any attention to Groundhog when just yesterday everyone wanted his weather report. Tired of this happening every year, Groundhog sets out to prove his worth. He launches into a lecture, hitting the high points of Groundhog habits, anatomy and lore. Initially, Squirrel and Crow are skeptical, but after the explanation of hibernation, both admit that groundhogs aka whistle pigs aka woodchucks are pretty cool. In the end, it seems, Groundhog gets his wish with the publication of his (this) book. Swallow makes learning about these members of the marmot family a hoot with her easy-to-read text and cheeky comments from Crow and Squirrel. In her watercolor-and-pencil illustrations, Brunkus imbues Groundhog with as much aplomb as she regularly does Junie B. Jones. Nonfiction of this quality that can be read as a picture book is rare. A wonderful update to your tired old Groundhog Day section, this begs to be performed as reader’s theater. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-23876-X

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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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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