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RODEO RON AND HIS MILKSHAKE COWS

Clifford crafts a Wild West burpfest for his first solo outing, pitting well-established soda-fountain kings Frothy and Fruity in a shake-off against newly arrived, Stetson-topped milk-bar impresario Rodeo Ron and his corps of bovine dispensers. But it’s no contest: As the belching, brown-toothed residents of Cavity look on in delight, each cow does her thing—“She bucked . . . and she bronked, she shivered and she shook, and she went SHAKE! SHAKE! SHAKE!”—to produce a frothy, fantastic fruit milkshake. In the end, Frothy and Fruity explode with frustration, not to mention gas. Done up in appropriate colors—red for strawberry, blue for blueberry, and so on—Ron’s horned helpers sashay through the cartoon scenes, leaving happy Cavityites with bright, newly white smiles. Though driven less by a nutritional agenda than by the pleasures of bright colors and cavorting cattle, there is a point, of sorts, here, painlessly presented. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 24, 2005

ISBN: 0-375-83195-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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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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ACOUSTIC ROOSTER AND HIS BARNYARD BAND

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...

Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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