A nice homage to karate but not a worthy teaching tool.

KARATE KID

A series of karate moves is described and demonstrated by a goat kid.

Before laying out the stances, kicks, punches, and blocks, Karate Kid opens with the beginning steps of a karate class. All of the English karate-specific vocabulary is accompanied by the Japanese translation in parentheses: “belt (obi).” Karate Kid then goes through the positions, each given its own two-page layout that describes and illustrates the move. Some, such as a position the text labels the “Horse-Riding Stance,” have clear explanations; others, like the “Back Kick,” are harder to follow due to missing details or the simple challenge of depicting a moving action on the page. Chambers’ illustrations show Karate Kid against a plain, bold background, donning his uniform, and showing the moves. While he’s certainly a cute character with his headband and beard, it’s hard to make sense of moves that describe things like pinched fingers when goats have hooves. A very helpful note for caregivers expanding on the martial art comes on the last page of the book, which means that the explanations of the words, moves, and concept of karate come after readers have largely finished making sense of the book. Due to the occasionally unclear explanations and illustrations, this is best for readers who are already familiar with the sport.

A nice homage to karate but not a worthy teaching tool. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9343-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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