The illustrations are delicious, but the tale cuts little new ground.

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SHIFTY MCGIFTY AND SLIPPERY SAM

Some rather slim fun about a couple of dogs making indecently sweet desserts.

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam are two pooches in the robbery biz. But they are a luckless duo, their swag bag empty night after night. They hit on a plan—not a very community-minded one—to rob their neighbors. They’ll throw a party, and when everyone is making merry, Shifty and Sam will sneak out and ransack their homes. Bad dogs! Shifty and Sam also realize that they have to make fixings for the party and fall pretty hard for the art of baking: cupcakes, pies, cakes and doughnuts—“So creamy!” “So dreamy!” “The best buns in town!” gasp their neighbors. When the two dogs make their nefarious move, one of the partygoers overhears their plan and alerts the others, who follow at a distance. Shifty and Sam are thwarted. They are advised to go legit: Open a bakery. No clever turns here, no unexpected much of anything: The two dogs are on the path to rightness since their path to wrongness was a bust. The rhymed text is comfortable and has a certain melody; the artwork of pastel oil and chalk in party colors—pastry’s best friends on the page—is pure confection.

The illustrations are delicious, but the tale cuts little new ground. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6838-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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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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