If readers are ready to forgive its confused plot, the art offers much to appreciate.

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VICTOR AND HUGO

Two dogs rescue their master’s accordion—and the world’s music—in Paris.

Victor and Hugo, a terrier and a basset hound, respectively, accompany their elderly, white master, Maestro, and his accordion on the banks of the River Seine. Appreciative viewers watch their performance, but a tossed salami causes Victor, Hugo, and the accordion to fall into the river. Both dogs (who start speaking once separated from their master) are illustrated with personality and emotion, and the oft-changing perspective keeps the pace moving. However, the core of the story—that Maestro’s accordion gets stuck in a tire that constantly evades capture and that said accordion suddenly houses the music of the world—feels arbitrary and even nonsensical. Victor and Hugo, along with many Parisians, chase the accordion, which somehow ends up in a sewer that Hugo and Victor access through a hidden door. Afraid they’re stuck in the sewer for good, Victor and Hugo sing a song that makes the whole of Paris sad…and leads Maestro to them. He liberates his accordion and leads the dogs back to the streets, where everyone celebrates the return of music to the world. While Blake’s lush oil paintings evoke the colors, vibrancy, diversity, and excitement of this little slice of Paris, his story is a disjointed jumble.

If readers are ready to forgive its confused plot, the art offers much to appreciate. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-24324-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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