Emergent readers won’t be the only audience delighted by these winning combinations of humor and thought-provoking twists.

BENJAMIN BEAR IN BRIGHT IDEAS!

From the Benjamin Bear series

A companion to Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking (2011), 27 more wise and witty minimalist fables drawn (with added dialogue and other minor changes) from French cartoonist Coudray’s original series.

Presented, mostly, in three to six cleanly drawn panels, each mini-tale features Benjamin (Barnabé in the original French) and one or more smaller animals interacting in outdoorsy settings. Most of the storytelling is visual, with just an occasional comment in a balloon, and many of the single-page episodes have an Aesopian flavor. In “Can I Get a Ride?” he picks up one woodland hitchhiker after another until, in the last panel, tables turn and they have to carry him. In “See-Saw,” he “helps” a fox carry a log (and demonstrates a principle of physics) not by lifting the long end, but by hopping onto the short end. In response to a rabbit’s philosophical proposition that you can’t make “Something out of Nothing,” he makes a hole and a pile of dirt: “TWO things!” In a deft comment on narcissism, Benjamin agrees to let the rabbit paint his portrait around the trunk of a tree—so that the image ends up staring at its own butt.

Emergent readers won’t be the only audience delighted by these winning combinations of humor and thought-provoking twists. (Graphic early reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-935179-22-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: TOON/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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