“Thankz, Buzz!” says the grateful guest of honor at the end. Readers will agree it’s the least a boy could do for his buzzom...


From the Fly Guy series , Vol. 17

In this antic series’ 17th episode, Buzz throws his lonely pet fly a surprizze party.

Inspired by Fly Guy’s drawings of “Muzzer” and “Fazzer,” Buzz plants tiny invitations in every reeking trash can and pile of rot in the neighborhood—and opens the door to thousands of Fly Guy’s relatives, after assuring them there are no “swatterzz” on the premises. “Wow!” says Buzz, delighted. “Flies have big families!” Fly Guy too is delighted: “Bruzzer! / Sizzter! / … / Auntzie! / Unkz!” Buzz’s parents are, understandably, nonplussed, but Buzz has it all planned out…even to the catering, as a garbage truck drives up and dumps a heap of stinking refuse in the yard. Out fly the guests to chow down and play amid the noxious noshes. It’s a grand party, but time (as they say) flies, and ultimately the swarms disperse as the garbage is bagged up. As with all the Fly Guy books, Arnold makes the most of the contrast between readers’ received assumptions about flies and Buzz’s total ignorance of them, genially giving the former a 90-degree twist. Page-filling fleets of flies may give some readers (or their caregivers) pause, but it’s hard not to get a kick out of the way the flies tuck into their garbage banquet, and the baby picture of a larval Fly Guy with a pacifier is pretty darn cute.

“Thankz, Buzz!” says the grateful guest of honor at the end. Readers will agree it’s the least a boy could do for his buzzom buddy . (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-66316-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.


Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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