This stand-alone title in a series is sure to win hearts and minds, even as its characters come near to losing the latter.

THE CAMPING TRIP

From the Adventures of Pettson and Findus series

Perils and perturbations await two friends hoping for a peaceful camping experience in the mountains.

When Pettson, a bearded, white human, and his beanie-wearing cat, Findus, discover an old, rolled-up tent in the attic, they are inspired to take a hike in the mountains. Unfortunately their trip is cut short by 10 of Pettson’s overly enthusiastic hens, who want to tag along. They decide just to pitch the tent in the yard. After that nothing is predictable. Fishing in the nearby lake reveals a massive pike, Findus coerces Pettson into sleeping in the tent with him, and after that, Pettson tells a whopper of a tall tale to his neighbor about why they’re camping at all. The story was originally published in Swedish in 1992 and in the United States in 1993 as Festus and Mercury Go Camping, and it’s little wonder that Pettson (a parental stand-in) and Findus (a child) have a cult following. There’s more text to each scene than most modern picture books, but Nordqvist’s writing keeps everything moving at a smart clip. Tiny details and creatures are often hidden in the backgrounds of the book’s scenes, and most (like the mailbox in Pettson’s bedroom that’s stuffed full of dirty socks) are charming. One exception might be a teepee with a feathered headdress–wearing rodent family peeking at our heroes’ foibles.

This stand-alone title in a series is sure to win hearts and minds, even as its characters come near to losing the latter. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4277-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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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Chilling in the best ways.

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CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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