ANDIAMO, WEASEL!

Readers learn a lesson about friendship, self-esteem, and the Italian language in Grant’s noteworthy debut. Set in Tuscany, the story revolves around a crow and a weasel. “This is such a grande job for a piccolo crow,” the weasel says when he sees Crow preparing to plant corn. “But if I help—presto!—the job will be done, and when harvest comes we can split the crop.” Soon, the two sow seeds together. But when it comes time to tend the field, Weasel flakes out. First, he complains of a broken leg. When he adds a sore back to the list of ailments, Crow gets wise. Goodell’s (Zigazak!: A Magical Hannukah Night, 2001, etc.) lush, naturalistic portraiture pictures Crow rushing to save the harvest from the oncoming storm. He collects the crop overnight, but when he wakes up the next morning, only husks are left. Tones of terra cotta brown and buttery yellow warm the double-paged spread as Crow confronts Weasel. “I divided our crop,” explains Weasel, kicking back against a mountain of freshly shucked corn. “And you get the husks!” Infuriated, Crow enlists the services of a snarling wolf. But when they get to Weasel’s den, Crow goes ballistic, driving Weasel away without the wolf’s help, proving once and for all that size doesn’t count when it comes to standing up for yourself. Young readers—especially those small in stature—will appreciate Grant’s positive message about self-reliance and standing up for your rights. Italian words, easily understood in context, appear throughout; a glossary is also included. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-375-80607-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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