Chock-full of bicultural fun on the farm.

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SEÑOR PANCHO HAD A RANCHO

Colato Laínez (The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez, 2010) presents a bicultural rendition of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” one of the most widely known and loved children’s songs.

This book introduces readers to the various animals on two separate farms. On the first page of each spread is Old MacDonald and a traditional verse of the song in English. The next page presents Señor Pancho, whose rancho is also filled with animals whose Spanish names and sounds are blended into the English text. The opening pages prepare readers who may not be familiar with Spanish by providing a glossary of terms and a pronunciation guide to the Spanish sounds. Finally, the animals from the two farms meet, and everyone joins in dancing and singing, mixing all of the sounds and names together. The lively illustrations are imbued with movement and humor, significantly contributing to the overall joy of the book. Subtle nuances, such as in landscape and textile patterns, are used to distinguish Old MacDonald and Señor Pancho. For some readers, the repetition of each verse might lack sufficient action to keep them engaged. Others, however, will enjoy learning the names of the animals in both English and Spanish and comparing the onomatopoeia in each language.

Chock-full of bicultural fun on the farm. (glossary, pronunciation guide, author’s note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2632-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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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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