PANTS FOR CHUCK

From the I Like To Read series

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

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 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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FLY GUY PRESENTS: SHARKS

From the Fly Guy series

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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