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POLONIUS THE PIT PONY

From the Travellers' Tales series

A sweet family story.

A coal-mining pit pony takes to the Traveling life.

Polonius works and lives day in and day out underground save for a two-week stint aboveground when the mines shut down. Seeing horses grazing untethered and unfenced with a Traveling family, Polonius takes his chance and escapes, following them to their next camp. Though initially Grandad is unwilling to take him, Lucretia persuades him that Polonius will “be useful somehow.” Indeed, though he’s more a well-loved pet than anything else, one day he proves his mettle by guiding draft horses Cushy and Thor through a dense fog so the family can get its wares to the port for shipping. Romani storyteller O’Neill gives readers a classic story of an undersized hero who makes good. His Traveler family is a tightknit, loving group that works hard even as it pursues an itinerant life. The sparing introduction of dialect further cements the family’s cultural specificity; while outsider readers may not know exactly what Daddo means when he tells the family they’ll “set off early and stop halfway for some habben and a besh,” the general concept is clear (and an unobtrusive opening glossary enlightens them fully). The equines’ ability to talk to one another further underscores their importance within the culture. Thomas’ delicate illustrations depict an early-20th-century industrializing English countryside; Lucretia and her family display a range of skin tones from pale to brown.

A sweet family story. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78628-186-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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. 28, 2018

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CAPTAIN AWESOME TO THE RESCUE!

From the Captain Awesome series , Vol. 1

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

The town of Sunnyview got a little bit safer when 8-year-old Eugene McGillicudy moved in.

Just like his comic-book mentor, Super Dude, Eugene, aka Captain Awesome, is on a one-man mission is to save the world from supervillains, like the nefarious “Queen Stinkypants from Planet Baby.” Just as Eugene suspected, plenty of new supervillains await him at Sunnyview Elementary. Are Meredith Mooney and the mind-reading Ms. Beasley secretly working together to try and force Eugene to reveal his secret identity? Will Principal Brick Foot succeed in throwing Captain Awesome into the “Dungeon of Detention?” Fortunately, Eugene isn’t forced to go it alone. Charlie Thomas Jones, fellow comic-book lover and Super Dude fan, stands ready and willing to help. When the class hamster goes missing, Captain Awesome must don his cape and, with the help of his new best friend, ride to the rescue. Kirby’s funny and engaging third-person narration and O’Connor’s hilarious illustrations make the book easily accessible and enormously appealing, particularly to readers who have recently graduated to chapter books. But it is the quirky, mischievous Eugene that really makes this book special. His energy and humor are contagious, and his dogged commitment to his superhero alter ego is enough to make anyone a believer.  

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4090-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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