Readers will buzz to it like flies to manure.



From the Fly Guy series

Arnold’s buzzworthy Fly Guy series gets another spinoff, this time co-starring Fly Girl.

One day, Buzz invites Fly Guy to go to the zoo, inspired by a book about wild animals. Elsewhere, Liz invites her insect pal, Fly Girl. The human-fly pairs collide on their way with a “WHAP” (the flies) and a “WHUMP” (the humans). Once recovered, they decide to continue to their outing together. Buzz and Liz break off to go see the spider monkeys and naked mole rats, leaving Fly Guy and Fly Girl on their own. The two flies go looking for lunch, finding things that are “sticky,” “slimy,” “slippery,” and “smelly.” Their alliterative adventure culminates in a “scary” exhibit of “Creatures of the Night” (or, from their perspective, a “dark, dark cave”). “Gulpz” after “Gulpzie,” the flies spook themselves silly as they meet each animal. They hide in a box for safety. But will their humans find them? Using fewer than 90 words and their variants—including some decoded “fly talk”—Arnold keeps the text easy to read. The quick pace, including some genuinely surprising page turns, ups the entertainment factor. It’s unfortunate, however, that Fly Girl is presented with gender stereotypes: She’s pink and wears a bow on one of her antennae. Both Buzz and Liz present White. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.8-by-11.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 25% of actual size.)

Readers will buzz to it like flies to manure. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-54921-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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. 29, 2018

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.


This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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