Though the story is slight, some young listeners may enjoy tracing the path the secret travels, while parents will...

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OLIVE AND THE BIG SECRET

A simple story of a secret that slips out.

Olive hears the secret from Molly. Sorely tempted, Olive manages not to share the information immediately but can’t contain herself indefinitely. So she spills the beans to Joe. Joe tells Matt, and Matt tells Bea and Lola. Then Lola hurries off to share the news with her best friend, (wait for it) Molly. Miffed, Molly turns on Olive with a frown. So far readers have remained in the dark as to the exact nature of the secret, though some may have noticed a clue in the illustrations. Although the author coyly refuses to blab, Olive reveals all when she urges readers to peek at the final page. Freeman’s straightforward text sets a steady pace and leaves plenty of room for her pictures to expand the action. Each child is shown as a different animal in the carefully composed, mixed-media illustrations, but their pursuits and behavior are entirely human. Rounded bodies, large heads and small extremities emphasize the mild humor and allow emotions to be clearly conveyed.

Though the story is slight, some young listeners may enjoy tracing the path the secret travels, while parents will appreciate the opportunity to talk about friendship and trust. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6149-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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