Visually beautiful, clever, edgy, and very funny.

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MOTHER BRUCE

A crotchety bear unwillingly raises four goslings.

Bruce is a stocky, black-and–dark-indigo bear with a scowling unibrow. He dislikes sunny days, rainy days, and cute little animals. He likes one thing: eggs, cooked into gourmet recipes that he finds on the Internet. He “collects” eggs from Mrs. Sparrow or Mrs. Goose—asking, hilariously, whether they’re “free-range organic”—but the pictures reveal the truth: he’s clearly stealing them. As Bruce brings home some goose eggs that unexpectedly hatch and imprint on him—“Bruce became the victim of mistaken identity”—wry text and marvelously detailed pictures juxtapose uproariously. Setting out to “get the ingredients” means wheeling a shopping cart into a river; “for some reason” he loses his appetite placing a pat of butter atop a live gosling’s head on his plate. Grumblingly, Bruce rears them from “annoying baby geese” through “stubborn teenage geese” (wearing headphones, naturally) into “boring adult geese.” Still they won’t leave him. Rather than migrating (by wing or by the giant slingshot Bruce builds for the purpose), they don winter hats and coats. Befitting Bruce’s personality, there’s no sappy change of heart, but this family is forever. Higgins’ softly fascinating textures, deft lines, savvy use of scale, and luminous landscapes (which evoke traditional romantic landscape painting, atmospheric in air and light) make for gorgeous art.

Visually beautiful, clever, edgy, and very funny. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3088-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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