A crucial message awkwardly executed.

FAIR SHARES

Animals learn about true fairness.

A tree sports bountiful pears, and Hare wants to partake. Surely Hare can jump high enough to reach them? Alas, no—Hare leaps but comes down with nothing to show for it. Along comes Bear, but she can’t reach them either. Chairs are proposed, opening up the key philosophical question: Bear says it’s unfair if she herself gets only one chair while Hare gets two, but Bear only needs one chair to reach the fruit while Hare really does need two. Giving each animal one chair while leaving one spare (unused) is mathematically equal—thus satisfying Bear—but Hare, alone in not being able to reach pears, objects: “This doesn’t FEEL fair.” Goodhart’s distinction between equality and equity is politically essential in myriad areas of life: “Giving everybody the same thing isn’t always fair” (spoken by a beetle). The repetition of a small set of rhymes—“bear,” “hare,” “pear,” “chair,” “fair,” “spare,” “share”—begs for textual rhythm, which is largely missing. The text sometimes has a forced quality (“I see lots of pears for me”) or an off-kilter casualness (“PICK went Bear”). The art highlights red, dark yellow, and olive green, making the setting autumnal. Bear’s and Hare’s bodies are filled in with nonspecific lines and shadings that are too vertical and horizontal to read as organic fur.

A crucial message awkwardly executed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68464-048-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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