A smart and whimsical tale with characters savoring tea and elegant watercolors complementing the verses.

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TEAPOTS AND ASSORTED THINGS

A variety of children, birds, and other creatures cavorts in this debut rhyming picture book.

Listed for ages 3 and up, this volume offers enough magic to charm a bevy of curious readers. An epigraph from George Harrison, “Show me that I’m everywhere and get me home for tea,” sets the tone of travel, delight, and familiar comforts. As with Alice’s adventures beyond the looking glass, kids and animals populate the story, but rather than being hallucinatory and frightening, the various scenes are wondrous and alluring. Some moments are profound. The very first page shows a little owl peeking out of his hole in a craggy tree, the night sky behind a light blue wash with chinks left white or colored yellow for the stars. The facing text is just a couple of lines: “This is me in here. / Is that you out there?” The effect is humbling, suggesting a mutual inquisitiveness between creature and reader—a most welcoming party invitation. Other guests include a winged dog, a fish with large eyelashes, a white rabbit, several birds, three mice with their own teacups, a dark-haired girl, and Bird Face, who appears in a long red coat, blue top hat, and a pointed beak mask. Accompanying his picture, a quatrain with strong rhymes by Ross fills in the character’s story: “He drinks all kinds of teas. / He feeds his birds with peas. / He built his house from cheese.” A few pages later, a slightly crooked multistory house receives its own portrait, with the Eiffel Tower small but stalwart in the distance. Large green shutters accentuate the windows, and the paired text enumerates the residents of each floor. (Ducks with hats live in the penthouse.) Some of the human characters in Usova’s (Mrs. T’s Kooky Pants, 2014, etc.) distinctive illustrations have faces that are pale on one side and darker on the other. Houses are a prominent visual motif in the images, as readers see a lady’s hat that boasts lit windows, a thatch roof in the distance, a castlelike school, and an intimate mouse house under the snow cherries, cozy with a table—and tea—for two in winter.

A smart and whimsical tale with characters savoring tea and elegant watercolors complementing the verses.

Pub Date: July 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9903086-0-7

Page Count: 28

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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