HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. KANG

Roth (My Love for You, 1996, etc.) honors the memory of her Chinese uncle through her story, which is partially based on her uncle's immigrant experiences and his talents as a poet and calligrapher. Mr. Kang celebrates his 70th birthday by announcing he will retire after 50 years as a cook in a Chinese restaurant. He wants to read the New York Times every day, paint poems in Chinese calligraphy, and keep a special kind of Chinese bird, a hua mei, in a cage that he can take to the park like the other retired Chinese men in his neighborhood in Brooklyn. Mr. Kang's seven-year-old grandson, Sam, objects to keeping a bird caged, but when the bird is given the chance to go free, it returns to Mr. Kang's apartment and its cage. This lovely, quiet story has a satisfying conclusion as Mr. Kang paints a poem, Sam paints a picture, and the bird paints a little picture of its own with delicate footprints. Roth's elegant collage illustrations are a delight to peruse, incorporating paper-cut figures, rice papers, brocades, feathers, newspaper scraps, and photographs to create a dynamic flow of art. Text is place carefully within its own frame on top of one side of each exquisitely crafted two-page spread. An author's note offers more details about the Chinese tradition of retired men keeping caged birds as pets as well as details about her collage materials. For its art, for its celebration of a venerable grandfather, and for a special look at a unique custom, this is a story to be treasured. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7922-7723-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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