THE ADVENTURES OF MOOSE & MR. BROWN

Anthropomorphic animals meet through happenstance, become friends, and help each other with their problems.

The new spin this title tries to apply to the overly familiar trope is that one of the two characters—monkey Mr. Brown—is a famous fashion designer. He meets Moose on a plane when Moose is traveling from Alaska to London. Moose is introduced as having a superfluous and perpetually absent-minded twin—Monty—who has boarded the wrong plane. Mr. Brown offers to help Moose look for Monty, though looking seems to just mean that Moose will accompany Mr. Brown as he travels around the world to work. Moose, in return, provides Mr. Brown with top-notch fashion ideas, such as scarves for giraffes and sunglasses for snakes. Though clearly aiming for some degree of lovable kitsch, this title overshoots and lands squarely on bizarre. The premise is preposterous; the narrative meandering. At best the choice to feature an anthropomorphic (possibly stuffed) monkey character named “Mr. Brown” is unfortunate; at worst, it’s offensive—especially taken alongside the tiny vignette that is the sole representation of Africa. The illustrations are frequently too crowded, making decoding them difficult and rendering the entire work a confusing mess.

Safe to skip it. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-84365-428-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Pavilion Children's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite.

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AFTER THE FALL (HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN)

Humpty Dumpty, classically portrayed as an egg, recounts what happened after he fell off the wall in Santat’s latest.

An avid ornithophile, Humpty had loved being atop a high wall to be close to the birds, but after his fall and reassembly by the king’s men, high places—even his lofted bed—become intolerable. As he puts it, “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Although fear bars Humpty from many of his passions, it is the birds he misses the most, and he painstakingly builds (after several papercut-punctuated attempts) a beautiful paper plane to fly among them. But when the plane lands on the very wall Humpty has so doggedly been avoiding, he faces the choice of continuing to follow his fear or to break free of it, which he does, going from cracked egg to powerful flight in a sequence of stunning spreads. Santat applies his considerable talent for intertwining visual and textual, whimsy and gravity to his consideration of trauma and the oft-overlooked importance of self-determined recovery. While this newest addition to Santat’s successes will inevitably (and deservedly) be lauded, younger readers may not notice the de-emphasis of an equally important part of recovery: that it is not compulsory—it is OK not to be OK.

A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-682-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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