THIS BOOK JUST ATE MY DOG

A carnivorous book invites readers to participate.

The book opens with an unseen little girl named Bella calling from within the book to her dog, asleep on the copyright page. Presumably, Bella passed the gutter of the book without event, but this proves confusing given what happens to her dog. As the tragically obedient dog crosses the gutter, it disappears. While Bella is aware that she’s in a book, the background illustration could easily be interpreted as the sidewalk of a nondescript street (a less confusing choice may have been a text or white-space background, à la David Wiesner’s The Three Pigs). Once her dog disappears completely, various other characters come to help but are also consumed by the book. Eventually, so is Bella, but she sends a note to readers from...beyond...requesting that readers turn the book 90 degrees and shake it. Lo and behold, all the characters fall out, and all ends well. This happy ending presents another mystery: If all those characters were “eaten” by the book, how could they simply fall out? The metafictive picture book has ceased to be a novelty and become its own, increasingly substantial genre, which poses an existential crisis of sorts for it. If metafiction becomes ho-hum ordinary, is it still doing its job?

Misses the mark. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62779-071-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Chilling in the best ways.

CREEPY CRAYON!

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 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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