From Captain Quiet’s clever belt buckle (“SH”) to Rupert’s gaping tonsil shots, Higgins has once again drawn up a winner.

BE QUIET!

Having failed in the hospitality business due to a rude and surly bear (Hotel Bruce, 2016), mice Rupert, Nibbs, and Thistle decide to go into publishing.

Rupert decides to star in his very own wordless book: the emphasis is on “wordless”…as in no words whatsoever. Nibbs and Thistle agree—loudly and vociferously. Speech bubbles proliferate at quantum speed despite Rupert’s creative direction: “Quiet, you!” Instead of collaborating on a “visually stimulating” book, the head mouse finds himself besieged by a thicket of words (854, more or less). Cameo appearances by unibrowed Bruce and one of his goslings from the Mother Bruce books lend a gratifying sense of continuity to this wacky sylvan universe. Higgins’ visual puns and artistic high jinks power the escalating absurdity of Rupert’s blithely obtuse sidekicks. The hilariously smart dialogue reinforces the sight gags scattered throughout. The helpful observation that “we need to have strong illustrations” is followed by an image of the two literal-minded mice flexing muscle-bound body parts; Captain Quiet, Thistle and Nibbs’ proposed “Vocabulary Vigilante,” is a champion word-fighter and proponent of onomatopoeia (“POW / BLAM / KABOOM”)—and not at all what the creative director had envisioned.

From Captain Quiet’s clever belt buckle (“SH”) to Rupert’s gaping tonsil shots, Higgins has once again drawn up a winner. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3162-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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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