A humorous—make that hysterical—homage to movies and big dreams.

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THIS IS A MOOSE

Moose is steadfastly determined to achieve stardom amid the stars.

The “Mighty Moose” is the subject of a nature film—or so the director intends. The moose, however, has donned a space suit and persists in his intention to be an astronaut through multiple takes. His lacrosse-playing grandmother intrudes on the set as does a giraffe (the “Regal Giraffe”). Moose don’t play lacrosse, and giraffes belong in a safari film, according to the increasingly irate director. Grandmother, giraffe and assorted friends nonetheless launch the moose into space, allowing him to leave his natural habitat far behind. Director Waddler, evoking the spirits of Billy Wilder, Daffy Duck and Mo Willems’ Pigeon, finally gets the picture and resets and retitles his film as This Is an Astronaut. Morris’ story is filled with child-friendly humor that is cleverly matched by Lichtenheld’s comic ink, pencil and gouache paintings. The pair captures personality (lots of it), action and adventure, along with some old-fashioned filmmaking tropes. The blues and browns of the background craftily evoke both a natural and astral setting, while the literally colorful text, both typeset and hand-lettered, could adorn any traditional production set (or playground). And for a witty final touch, there is a Glossary of Filmmaking Terms. Certain to elicit gales of giggles.

A humorous—make that hysterical—homage to movies and big dreams. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-21360-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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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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