Verbal and visual humor abound.

MOM, THERE'S A BEAR AT THE DOOR

A bear, a mother, and her child have lively two-way conversations.

Endpapers set a humorous tone with their depiction of bear tracks on an old-fashioned tiled floor. Readers then meet a big bear trying to hide behind a tree. They are invited to share in his escapade as he is next seen in an apartment house. Quiet, he signals, and the deadpan fun continues. A child, dialogue in black, announces that “there’s a bear at the door!” Mom answers, her dialogue in red, “But we live on the eleventh floor!” “That’s why he’s there,” says the child. (Duh.) The verbal mayhem continues as logic is stretched. The bear takes the bus and yes, he has a ticket, because how else could he board the bus? He is on their floor because he wants to see the sea. He can’t do that in the forest where he lives, which is why he has to look out their window. His objective met, he enjoys Black Forest cake, and then the bear and the child, properly helmeted, bus and bicycle back to the forest to enjoy a cozy nap. Lipan’s text, translated from German, recalls the rhythmic cadences of Remy Charlip’s classic Fortunately. Olten’s colorful, full-bleed artwork with reds and greens predominating imbues the characters with barrelfuls of personality.

Verbal and visual humor abound. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5460-5

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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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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