Ultimately, since Chuck ends up smartly eschewing the pants at book’s end, the title even ends up seeming like a misnomer.

PANTS FOR CHUCK

From the I Like To Read series

A beginning reader with a silly story that may or may not hold up to interrogation about anthropomorphic animals and story logic.

Big Chuck is a woodchuck who enjoys playing with other backyard animals such as a chipmunk, mice, a rabbit, a raccoon and a chickadee. They play, running and climbing about until Chuck spies a rag doll on the ground and inspects its clothing. He decides he wants the doll’s pants for himself and tries to squeeze into them. The others are obviously correct when they tell him that he is too big and the pants are too small, but Chuck ignores their protests and tries to run and climb about, just as before. Humorous watercolors capture the physical comedy of the scenes, and he remains determined to wear the pants until his girth makes them burst at the seams, with text reading “Pop! Rip!” Depending on readers’ suspension of disbelief, it’s either funny or confusing that on the next page Chuck covers his backside in embarrassment as the other animals look away. None of them is wearing clothing, and he was likewise Chuck-naked before donning the pants, so the internal logic of the story seems a bit off.

Ultimately, since Chuck ends up smartly eschewing the pants at book’s end, the title even ends up seeming like a misnomer. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3066-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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Hee haw.

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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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Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back.

TINY T. REX AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HUG

With such short arms, how can Tiny T. Rex give a sad friend a hug?

Fleck goes for cute in the simple, minimally detailed illustrations, drawing the diminutive theropod with a chubby turquoise body and little nubs for limbs under a massive, squared-off head. Impelled by the sight of stegosaurian buddy Pointy looking glum, little Tiny sets out to attempt the seemingly impossible, a comforting hug. Having made the rounds seeking advice—the dino’s pea-green dad recommends math; purple, New Age aunt offers cucumber juice (“That is disgusting”); red mom tells him that it’s OK not to be able to hug (“You are tiny, but your heart is big!”), and blue and yellow older sibs suggest practice—Tiny takes up the last as the most immediately useful notion. Unfortunately, the “tree” the little reptile tries to hug turns out to be a pterodactyl’s leg. “Now I am falling,” Tiny notes in the consistently self-referential narrative. “I should not have let go.” Fortunately, Tiny lands on Pointy’s head, and the proclamation that though Rexes’ hugs may be tiny, “I will do my very best because you are my very best friend” proves just the mood-lightening ticket. “Thank you, Tiny. That was the biggest hug ever.” Young audiences always find the “clueless grown-ups” trope a knee-slapper, the overall tone never turns preachy, and Tiny’s instinctive kindness definitely puts him at (gentle) odds with the dinky dino star of Bob Shea’s Dinosaur Vs. series.

Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7033-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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