THE MARZIPAN PIG

Long ago, Hoban wrote several quintessentially sensible picture books about Frances, a badger. Of late, he writes novels, which may be as experimental and critically acclaimed as Riddley Walker, and slapstick, satirical picture books. Here, he returns to the gently philosophical mode of A Mouse and His Child, in a whimsical fantasy whose primary appeal is the comic surprise of incongruity, enriched by other levels of meaning. The marzipan pig, still sweet within but dusty, crusty, and forgotten, mourns beneath a sofa till a mouse consumes it and is in turn consumed by love—for a clock, which can respond only with the time. The mouse, giving up on the clock (which then expires in despair), is eaten by an owl, causing it to fall in love with a taxi meter—and when this love is requited, after a fashion, a bee picks up a bit of the magic, which is then transferred to a flower and thence to another mouse that eats another marzipan pig—and survives. Each new turn is the occasion for some entertaining repartee as well as implicit ruminations on love between two beings that may not share a language or seem to communicate. This is all more accessible and fun than it may sound in summary. Hoban's deft, poetic style is perfect for sharing aloud; Blake's many humorous illustrations (black-and-white and thus more subdued than usual) enliven the attractive format. A good choice for young readers who enjoy fantasy.

Pub Date: May 20, 1987

ISBN: 978-1-59017-999-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1987

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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