An invigorating wade into a range of useful skills, though the settings aren’t as carefully crafted as the instructional...




From the Find Your Way series

Linked mazes lead young questors past math, measurement, and map-reading challenges to an undersea castle.

A-bustle with automobiles for all that it’s supposed to be under water, the tangled roadways leading through Merp Town aren’t hard to navigate. But along with detours required by such obstacles as a giant octopus or Snozzles the sea dragon, travelers are frequently required to hold up a certain number of fingers, use the coordinates at the edges to locate hidden items, count cars of a certain color, or collect small pearls or other tokens before proceeding. The 12th maze leads to one final challenge: a cutaway castle with a top that can be reached only by climbing the tallest visible ladder, shimmying up the longest of a set of ropes, and like tasks. In Boston’s cartoon illustrations, tiny fish and other sea creatures are interspersed with green- or yellow-skinned merpeople in dress that seems better suited to dry land than undersea. That gesture toward diversity is not repeated in the co-published In the Jungle, in which sets of similar exercises in counting and finding are hosted by hut-dwelling native residents called Leafies, who are all green and sport dreadlocks and leopard-skin garments.

An invigorating wade into a range of useful skills, though the settings aren’t as carefully crafted as the instructional elements. (suggested activities) (Instructional picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68297-034-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: QEB Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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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. 29, 2018

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The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long.

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Bet you can’t make this goose smile, no matter how hard you try.

TV personality Kimmel’s first foray into picture books presents a feathered grump with a scowl that is proof against any kind of foolery: Try putting a chicken on her head, dressing her as a moose, or even trucking in a snail pizza—this goose won’t crack. Breaking now and again into verse, he challenges readers to give it a try in a foil mirror: “Cluck like a chicken / moo like a cow / be doofy, be goofy / any way you know how”—and sure enough, eventually a grin bursts out to replace the grimace despite a multipage struggle to hold it in, and off prances the goose in a pair of (gender-bending) tighty whities. Yes, she’s become “a SILLY goose (thanks to you),” the narrator proclaims, and what’s more, “YOU are a silly kid.” A hand-lettered narrative in block printing big enough to take up most of the space accompanies thick-lined cartoon views of a goosey glare that dares readers to crank up the volume, and the last page turn reveals a final tweak that may add a few grown-up voices to the younger chorus of giggles.

The goose is all that’s serious here…and that not for long. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-70775-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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