Folklore invitingly told and presented for a young audience.

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THE RAVEN AND THE LOON

Irrepressible trickster Raven gets his comeuppance when he annoys his friend Loon in a humorous tale based on Inuit folklore.

Both Raven and Loon were once unremarkably cloaked in plain white feathers—“stuck without colour,” according to the tale. Severely bored by the plainness of his plumage, Raven approaches the more staid Loon and suggests that they help each other improve their looks. Raven is clever and artistic, and he does a lovely job with Loon’s feathers. But following his success, Raven becomes so twitchy, chatty and annoying that he provokes Loon, who prides herself on her craft, to irritation. The unfortunate result involves a stone lamp full of soot and has consequences for the pair that can be seen to this day. The exchange is very funny—the Qitsualik-Tinsleys ably distill the essence of Raven’s impulsive and incorrigible verbosity. The rhythms of the story hint at the voice of the storytellers and also translate well to the printed page—easy to read, compact and punchy. Smith’s cover and title pages are striking—spiky feathers for Raven and smoother ones for Loon, along with deep blues that hint at a kind of arctic chill. The interior illustrations are lively and animated, and if a bit more ordinary, they offer a clear visual story for listeners.

Folklore invitingly told and presented for a young audience. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-92709-550-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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