Not a keeper of an early reader

READ REVIEW

OH NO, BATH TIME!

From the I Am Otter series

Otter enjoys playing outside with Teddy but doesn’t enjoy baths—at first.

While the controlled text is accessible to new readers as it follows Otter’s antics outside with its stuffed animal friend Teddy, characterization in this story is rather difficult to understand without prior familiarity with Garton’s picture books about Otter. Otter is depicted as an anthropomorphic animal, and Teddy is a toy. But then lines between fantasy and reality become blurred when the (never fully seen) human character, referred to as “Otter Keeper,” insists that muddy Otter and Teddy bathe. Bubbles, bath toys, and splashing end up making the dreaded bath fun after all. It’s unclear whether Otter Keeper is an adult or a child, but it is clear that Otter Keeper is worn out when Otter asks for another bath and is refused. Rebuffed, a cleaned-up Otter brings Teddy back outside to play, and an intentional splash in a mud puddle results in the coveted second bath. The illustrations are appealing, but they are largely symmetrical with the text. This may support a new reader’s decoding efforts, but they do little to add visual interest to the staid story or to clarify its characterization.

Not a keeper of an early reader . (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-236658-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series.

THE POLAR BEAR WISH

Anja and her dog, Birki, do their best to get to a Christmas party in a frozen Nordic landscape.

Anja wishes she had a dog sled to harness Birki to in order to get to the party. The next morning, her cousin Erik appears with his dog sled and an offer to take her there. Lost in a blizzard, they encounter talking wolves who take them to a tent where they can spend the night. A baby polar bear named Tiny appears, separated from his mother. The following day takes them all on an adventure through glaciers and fjords, past an ice castle, and finally to Tiny’s mother and to the party. This digitally produced book is illustrated with photographs that capture the Nordic setting. Unfortunately, the overall effect is weirdly flat, with elements awkwardly set together in images that lack depth. A polar bear perches awkwardly on top of oddly scaled pack ice; Anja and Erik spend a night in the ice castle in niches chiseled into the wall, but they seem oddly disconnected from it. The book has an old-fashioned, European feel; the white, blond children’s red caps and traditional clothing stand out against the dim, bluish winter light. But the wooden, overlong text does little to cultivate the magical fantasy feeling that it’s aiming for.

For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6566-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more