For those who have lost home; for those who will always be searching.

READ REVIEW

FIREFLIES

Themes of displacement, community, and facing the unknown suffuse this picture book.

White text pops off warm, nighttime-blue double-page spreads. Dots of yellow light from anthropomorphic “fireflies” feel familiar and welcoming. The glowing fireflies have very human bodies, translucent wings, pale complexions, and elfin noses; they wear unremarkable Western clothing. Despite their transcendent qualities, the fireflies encounter very human needs of food and home as their dwellings in a city park are destroyed by excavators. With the spirit of a road trip, this existential quest commences as the intergenerational group soars through the evening with suitcases and maps in hand. Whether it’s due to a forgotten teddy, lost friends, or a misplaced sense of direction entirely, each featured firefly relies on encouragement from another in the party for the necessary confidence to move along. The ceaseless night and the uncertainty among so many fireflies remind readers that sometimes a destination will remain elusive, particularly for those forced into movement. The distinctive feel of stone-paper pages is a grounding complement to the uprooted nature of this narrative about a group of people involuntarily searching for a new home.

For those who have lost home; for those who will always be searching. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-84-16733-54-5

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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