SAVING MISTER NIBBLES!

ELLIOT’S PARK, BOOK 1

Elliot, a squirrel who wears glasses and clothing and lives in a park with his friends, loves solving problems. When one of the park squirrels observes a human’s birthday party in which a stuffed squirrel is one of the gifts, the furry friends set out on a mission to rescue the squirrel, one Mister Nibbles. These squirrels cleverly distract humans with flashlights, dancing and rodeo-riding stunts, but, oddly, they are not smart enough to see that the unmoving Mister Nibbles is a stuffed animal who talks only when his ear is touched. Cartoonish spot drawings, reminiscent of Chip and Dale, dot many spreads, but do not raise this tale above the merely average. Choppy dialogue, short, stilted sentences and paragraphs that are rarely longer than one sentence seem designed for the new reader, but the huge number of characters and unbelievable plotline will be difficult for that reader to understand. For a much more satisfying fantasy of wildlife in a city park, read Johanna Hurwitz’s charming Pee Wee and Plush (2002). (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-545-01930-9

Page Count: 74

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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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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WHERE DO FROGS COME FROM?

The lifecycle of the frog is succinctly summarized in this easy reader for children reading at the late first-grade level. In just one or two sentences per page, Vern details the amazing metamorphosis of the frog from egg to tadpole to adult, even injecting a little humor despite the tight word count. (“Watch out fly! Mmmm!) Large, full-color photographs on white backgrounds clearly illustrate each phase of development. Without any mention of laying eggs or fertilization, the title might be a bit misleading, but the development from black dot egg to full-grown frog is fascinating. A simple chart of the three main lifecycle steps is also included. Lifecycles are part of the standard curriculum in the early elementary grades, and this will be a welcome addition to school and public libraries, both for its informational value and as an easy reader. (Nonfiction/easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-216304-2

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Green Light/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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