This rollicking fable will resonate with aficionados, dilettantes, and prodigies everywhere.


One-upmanship has never been so over-the-top.

How can Wally Wombat keep up with Wylie Wombat? Play the piano? Done that. Tap dance—while playing the piano? Done THAT. Twirling a ball on a furry snout—while tap dancing and playing the piano? DONE THAT! Ferociously sweating Wally Wombat has had “ENOUGH!” Wylie Wombat can do everything he can, and maybe even better. If Wally can’t be the best, he won’t play at all. So there. Wally quickly realizes that a quiet life in his burrow, while nice, isn’t what he wishes for most of all. Wylie offers up a truce and chocolate chip cookies on a picnic blanket—playing alone isn’t quite as much fun as having a friendly competitor. Wally and Wylie set up their dueling pianos. Soon the overachieving marsupials unicycle and flamethrow to stardom under the eucalyptus tree. They are the best—until they aren’t….Tep’s encouraging message about doing what you love despite not being the greatest of all time will spur children to explore life’s joys just for the pleasure it brings. (Regardless of cheeky parachuting wombats.) Pintonato’s vividly detailed illustrations comically highlight the myriad emotions clashing across put-upon Wally’s face. The unifying motif of the picnic blanket–patterned endpapers cleverly foreshadows the conflict resolution to come. The illustrator’s skillful use of negative space emphasizes the escalating mayhem to hilarious effect. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This rollicking fable will resonate with aficionados, dilettantes, and prodigies everywhere. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64896-180-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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Chilling in the best ways.


From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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Hee haw.

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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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