These two comic characters are sly as any fox—and endearing to boot.

THE FOX CHASE

From the Adventures of Pettson and Findus series

This 10th in the translated Swedish series has farmer Pettson and his talking cat, Findus, trying to outfox a fox.

With plenty of chickens and firewood, the two of them are content on their farm—until cranky neighbor Gustavsson shows up, asking if they’ve seen a fox that’s stealing chickens. Pettson and Findus immediately plan a scheme to scare the fox away by making a fake chicken. A balloon filled with black pepper and covered with chicken feathers should do the trick. But is that enough? Firecrackers, a zip line, and a ghost (Findus in a sheet) embellish the plan. The folk-tale quality of the story lends it down-home flavor, and the banter between farmer and cat is a large part of the fun. But the real cleverness lies in the lively, intricately detailed illustrations: a tiny bathtub with five mice sits on the workbench next to a pencil holder that appears to be full of telephone poles, just one of many details that will have readers poring over this book for hours. Though the text is longer than usual for a picture book and part of a series, this story can easily stand alone and may well lead the readers to previous adventures of Pettson and Findus.

These two comic characters are sly as any fox—and endearing to boot. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4215-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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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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