Arbitrary and lacking closure, this is more like a real dream than a sleepy-time tale.



Rabbits have group dreams—very peculiar ones.

At first, this animal tale appears fairly traditional: bunnies hop around a flowery field among bees and butterflies, hunkering down to eat carrots, radishes, and lettuce. “What do bunnies know?” They know to run from the farmer’s dog “even if he only wants to play,” and here things begin to feel uncanny. The enormous dog resembles the bunnies more than it does any canine, possessing tiny feet but virtually no legs, which highlights the fact that these bunnies, too, lack legs for their wee feet. They flee the friendly dog like a synchronized fleeing team, all in the same position, seeming to skim above the ground, which is solid white background. Diving into burrows, they again glide through air without touching soil. A chicken inexplicably joins them. When they sleep, their group dreams involve bees, butterflies, and a large dog—understandably—but also ABCs, 123s, and school supplies, which seem to arise from nowhere. A section about writing their names, with one bunny denying that his name is Bobby (who said it was?), is as peculiar as real dreams. McCarty shades his animals with smooth, fine lines, and their round eyes are almost electric. However, figures seem static even when moving, and the general lack of groundedness and gravity is more surreal than satisfying.

Arbitrary and lacking closure, this is more like a real dream than a sleepy-time tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9687-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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

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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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