Amusing to the point of provoking an inquiry. Really, it’s the bee’s knees.



Idioms get a run for their money in this good-humored and stimulating piece of wordplay from Nichols.

Nichols lays the figurative speech on thick in this mystery being tackled by the Gumshoe Zoo detective team, and he keeps the humor on high alert by using a team of animals as investigators. Animals, of course, are a favorite idiomatic tool, so apologies are flying as fast as the idioms: “Hmm...Yes. There’s something fishy going on around here. / Oh! No offense, Reggie,” says Quentin the goat. “None taken,” says Reggie the fish, adding, “There is some definite monkey business at hand, my friend. / Ooh. I didn’t mean anything by that, Steve,” says Reggie. “No sweat,” says Steve the monkey, adding, “And I agree. I smell a rat.” Nichols has illustrated the story in comic-book panels—some full-page, others with two or more a page—which gives the book both compression of language and expansion of story. The art itself is finely cartoony and as elemental as the periodic table. There are also zoomed-in panels that work a bit like a jigsaw puzzle to help readers determine if foul play is afoot. A concluding note provides further information, and it seems pretty natural that kids will want to learn something more about idioms from this first pleasing immersion.

Amusing to the point of provoking an inquiry. Really, it’s the bee’s knees. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-3182-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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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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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 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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