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THE BIG RACE LACE CASE

From the Mack Rhino, Private Eye series , Vol. 1

A soft-boiled animal detective story sure to please beginning readers.

It’s up to a rhino private eye to solve a mystery and prevent a cheater from winning the Big Race.

Private eye Mack Rhino and his trusty bird assistant, Redd, are off to buy new furniture (as the rhino has splintered yet another desk chair) when a mysterious phone call offers Mack his 100th case: a mystery concerning shoes. But the harried caller, who dropped clues off at the wrong address, doesn’t give Mack much to go on. Even worse, a jailbreak at the ant farm upstate means some of the usual suspects are back in action—and likely with an ally. Meanwhile, the two favorites for the Big Race are Jackie Rabbit, who wants to donate the prize money to build a playground, and Skunks McGee, under scrutiny for his track record of cheating. Other runners experience pre-race troubles in the form of vanishing shoelaces. Mack must think fast to distract Skunks during the race so that the sabotaged Jackie can win, and then to explain how Skunks did it—the suspected team-up with the Ant Hill Gang. The clues are clear enough for the target audience of emerging readers to solve the mystery themselves (the cast size and subplots made manageable with a cast of characters and glossary), and the puns bring laughs. Black-and-white cartoon illustrations tend to highlight slapstick.

A soft-boiled animal detective story sure to please beginning readers. (Mystery. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4113-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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WILLOW THE WHITE HOUSE CAT

Kids will enjoy the opportunity to “mews” on the doings of a presidential pet.

First Lady Biden and Capucilli, author of the Biscuit series, explain how Willow the cat came to reside at the White House.

Willow lives contentedly in a barn. One day, she’s curious when cars approach and people gather to hear a blond woman speak. Willow draws closer, then is delighted as the woman lifts her up and hugs her. That evening, light-skinned Farmer Rick tells Willow she made “quite an impression”: The visitor has invited Willow to live with her. A car arrives to drive Willow away to the White House, her new home in Washington, D.C. There, she’s welcomed by the first lady—the same woman who tenderly held her at the farm. Willow meets the president and explores her new home, filled with elegantly furnished rooms, grand staircases, and historic portraits. Plus, there’s a toy-filled basket! Best of all, there are wonderful people who work in and visit this beautiful house who show Willow kindness and affection. Willow’s favorite resting spot is at the president’s side in the Oval Office, though she also enjoys watching the first lady read to children on the lawn. Animal lovers will especially appreciate this sweet, cat’s-eye view of the White House, which helps humanize the first family by depicting them as ordinary feline fanciers. The loose ink, acrylic, and paint illustrations are cheerful and cozy. Background characters are racially diverse.

Kids will enjoy the opportunity to “mews” on the doings of a presidential pet. (author’s note from Biden, photos) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9781665952057

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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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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