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DOWN THE HOLE

Readers will have a “hole” lot of fun with this entertaining book.

Never try to outsmart a wily rabbit.

Fox learns this lesson when he tries sweet-talking Rabbit into emerging from his burrow. Sitting beside the hole that leads to the burrow, Fox is all dulcet tones as he asks Rabbit to come out so he can ask him a question. Rabbit, wise to Fox’s trickery, says he can hear Fox just fine right where he is. A funny conversation ensues as Fox urges and Rabbit resists. When Fox gives Rabbit his word not to devour him, Rabbit promises to poke his ear closer to the hole but asks Fox to step back a few paces. Fox complies, not realizing that Rabbit has thus sneakily positioned him to stand over the entrance to a den belonging to someone else. Rabbit then tells Fox to vigorously jump up and down atop the hole to scare bugs away. Again, Fox agrees—to his eventual detriment. Children will appreciate that Fox gets his deserved comeuppance and will giggle over this spirited tale filled with comical banter that proves a smart, brave, levelheaded individual can outwit a bully. The dynamic, witty illustrations depict wonderfully expressive characters and droll underground details; kids will have fun poring over all the amusing activities happening in the bunnies’ habitat. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Readers will have a “hole” lot of fun with this entertaining book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2023

ISBN: 9780358683346

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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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. 28, 2018

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