Ew! Here’s an enticing critter children won’t soon forget.

MY STINKY SUMMER BY S. BUG

From the Nature Diary series

A malodorous insect narrates its autobiography.

A brown marmorated (“veined or streaked like marble,” according to the glossary) stink bug describes its summer life cycle and activities in diary form. While the creature celebrates its birth in early June, having hatched from one of 28 eggs laid on the underside of a leaf, others are less than thrilled. This is partly because S. Bug’s more-vile-than-fragrant aroma protects it from being eaten and threatened by neighbors. Text is minimal in this fact-filled, captivating title. Sentences are concise and witty, capturing the voice of this feisty individualist. Readers will learn much about the smelly insect, including facts about its plant-based diet—which, unhappily, makes it a crop-damaging pest—and how it develops, after several larval stages, into a fully grown winged creature. Throughout, pithy, comically negative points of view about the stink bug are expressed as hand-lettered dialogue by other animals and insects. The book ends with S. Bug’s search for a suitable winter home, which it locates in early October and from which it will emerge the following spring. Appealing colorful illustrations depict natural-world details, rendered in vivid colors. White space and light-colored backgrounds allow kids to focus on S. Bug’s activities and habitat. Illustrated facts about stink bugs appear on the endpapers, which are designed so that no text is covered by the flyleaves.

Ew! Here’s an enticing critter children won’t soon forget. (sources, further reading) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4053-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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