Why ask children to think deep thoughts when you can offer a superficial variation on the common “Where’s Mama?” theme...

WHO AM I?

Two picture-book veterans offer a phoned-in collaboration that blows off not only the Big Question it poses, but the plot, too.

A puzzled hatchling chameleon actually has two posers: “Could you tell me who I am and where I come from?” he asks of a giraffe, an elephant and a succession of other jungle animals. No, replies each, identifying itself in a patterned way—“I am the cheetah and I am the fastest animal in the whole wide world, but I do not know what sort of creature you are.” A toothy crocodile at last promises enlightenment if only the little tyke will come closer…but just as he’s is about to climb on the croc’s nose, along comes Mama Chameleon to identify her little one as “my little baby chameleon, the most beautiful and unusual creature in the whole wide world!” and whisk him away to meet his many sibs. In his loosely brushed pictures, Ross adds an ingenious detail to the narrative by having the little one adopt the colors of each animal he questions, but he contradicts Phinn’s version of the climax (having the lizard clamber atop the nose of a croc whose mouth is closer to closed than wide open as described) and, in blithe disregard for internal logic, inexplicably sends the suddenly meek crocodile packing.

Why ask children to think deep thoughts when you can offer a superficial variation on the common “Where’s Mama?” theme instead? (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8996-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Andersen Press USA

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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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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PUG BLASTS OFF

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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