THREE SCOOPS AND A FIG

Sofia is awakened one morning by “scrumptious smells.” She and her cat Figaro go downstairs to her family’s restaurant to discover that her family is already cooking for the arrival of her grandparents. She tries to help, but she splatters Papa’s tomato sauce, puts too much yeast in Mama’s breadstick dough and tosses her brother Mario’s pizza dough onto the ceiling fan. Each time she is scolded—“Bambina, sei troppo piccola!”—she retreats to her seat in the fig tree. Finally, she helps herself to some gelato for breakfast and takes it outside under the tree, where a ripe fig falls into it—and lo! she has made a special dessert for her grandparents and the restaurant. The time sequencing is odd: It seems peculiar that Sofia would be asleep when everyone else is downstairs working, and it would take her quite some time to make those mistakes, making breakfast rather late. The images veer toward stereotype: Papa is bald and and has a black, handlebar mustache; Mario has thick, curly, black hair; Nonna wears her white hair in a bun. (author’s note, recipe, Italian words and phrases) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-56145-522-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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

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CREEPY CARROTS!

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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