This book may make free-range storytimes de rigueur.



One chicken at storytime might be fun, but more than one….

“Story time at the library. // One librarian. One story. Children. / And a chicken. // The children like the chicken. The chicken likes the children. / ‘Let’s begin,’ says the librarian. Everyone loves story time.” The next week, though there is still just one librarian (a white woman with huge, round glasses) and one story, there are both more children and more chickens (both diverse in color and race/breed). The crowd is a bit unruly, but the librarian gets them seated, and everyone has a wonderful time. The next week, however, there are many children and flocks of chickens. The librarian can’t be heard over the clucking din and the laughter. Then she has a brilliant idea: have each child read a different story to several chickens…and everyone loves storytime again (including the librarian, who gets to put her feet up and have tea). Asher’s not-quite-cumulative tale of a poultry invasion of the public library told in simple declarative sentences will have little listeners wishing for more farm fowl at their libraries. Fearing’s part-traditional, part-digital illustrations are a mix of full- and double-page spreads and comics-style panels (some without words) that assist in the telling of the tale. Chicken shenanigans (they pop out of the book drop, use computers, and balance books on their heads) as well as their expressions add to the mayhem and enjoyment.

This book may make free-range storytimes de rigueur. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3944-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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