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

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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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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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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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