Full of fun and sure to evoke giggles, meows, bowwows, and squeaks.

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WHOOPS!

Whoever heard of a cat that can’t meow?

Three animals unable to make the appropriate noises—the cat can’t meow, the dog can’t bark, and the mouse can’t squeak—are determined to remedy their unfortunate situations. But what can they do, and to whom should they turn? A wise (or perhaps not-so-wise) owl suggests they ask the old lady in the tumbledown house if she knows of a spell to solve the problem. Stylized and very appealing mixed-media illustrations portray the trio as they approach the old lady, a purple- and blue- and orange- and pink-haired (by turn) eccentric, who is perfectly happy to try to find a solution. But whoops! Things do not go according to plan, and as spells are cast and the tumbledown house whisks around, comic results follow. Judicious repetition of relevant words will help young readers join in and follow along, and youngsters already familiar with animals and their sounds will enjoy identifying each mishap. Is a happy ending possible? A funny one is guaranteed! Though the rhymes are sometimes bumpy and lose their flow, the text is clear and entertaining, and the changing palette and quirky tableaux full of action are a thorough delight.

Full of fun and sure to evoke giggles, meows, bowwows, and squeaks. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8180-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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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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