DISTANT FEATHERS

Egan’s dry-as-tinder, cornball humor reverberates through his latest tale of strange doings in a small town. The setting is a quaint, half-timbered village, the citizenry all long-eared, long-snouted blue hippo-like creatures, and the protagonist is Feathers, a colossal parrot who drops in one day, literally, from space. Sedrick Van Pelt is the first to make contact with the giant bird, who has a bottomless hunger—“Bread. I love bread. Any kind of bread. Pumpernickel, rye, whole wheat, sourdough. Any kind”—as well as a stumbling, bumbling manner that reduces certain structures in the village to rubble. Baking bread and lots of it, constantly mending their battered dwellings, the townsfolk get a little tired of the admittedly good-natured Feathers. When a hurricane sweeps Feathers away, the townsfolk demonstrate a form of grief: “He had become a wonderful, if somewhat destructive, part of their lives, and they missed him very much.” In the last couple of pages, Egan (Burnt Toast on Davenport Street, 1997, etc.) turns the story on its head, all very smoothly and convincingly: He will elicit smiles from listeners. The riffs on (and great fondness for) human foibles are magnified and made poignant by the daintily lumbering residents; the little burgs of the transporting artwork are welcoming idylls. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-395-85808-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1998

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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