A book that forgoes the basics of comprehension in pursuit of purposeful misdirection.

RABBIT STEW

A tale of foxes and rabbit goes for a twist ending.

Farmer foxes Rusty and Rojo believe the time has come to attend to their “prizewinning… / RABBIT STEW!” They pluck delicious vegetables from the ground and off the vines, scrounge for fruits in the bushes, and all the while are viewed apprehensively by the local rabbit family. After all the ingredients are picked, it’s time for the pièce de résistance, a “round…white… / bowl… / for our favorite Rabbit, Stew.” It turns out that Stew is the name of the foxes’ prizewinning rabbit, so he and his family are treated to a feast of healthy treats. It’s a cute-enough idea, but the payoff loses much in the delivery. Is the book implying that the foxes own the rabbits and win prizes at rabbit shows with them? If so, why do the bunnies look terrified out of their gourds for 95 percent of the book? The confusing storytelling is rivaled only by the art. Readers see that the rabbits have a home directly next to (and beneath) the foxes, yet they appear fearful of their neighbors from Page 5 onward. And little wonder! Rusty handles a tomato and calls it “plump, yet firm,” while Rojo hugs a rabbit and says, “Perfectly so.” No doubt readers will wonder why the scared bunnies don’t hop along to greener, less saliva-spackled pastures.

A book that forgoes the basics of comprehension in pursuit of purposeful misdirection. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62979-583-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Chilling in the best ways.

CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors.

THE LEAF THIEF

A confused squirrel overreacts to the falling autumn leaves.

Relaxing on a tree branch, Squirrel admires the red, gold, and orange leaves. Suddenly Squirrel screams, “One of my leaves is…MISSING!” Searching for the leaf, Squirrel tells Bird, “Someone stole my leaf!” Spying Mouse sailing in a leaf boat, Squirrel asks if Mouse stole the leaf. Mouse calmly replies in the negative. Bird reminds Squirrel it’s “perfectly normal to lose a leaf or two at this time of year.” Next morning Squirrel panics again, shrieking, “MORE LEAVES HAVE BEEN STOLEN!” Noticing Woodpecker arranging colorful leaves, Squirrel queries, “Are those my leaves?” Woodpecker tells Squirrel, “No.” Again, Bird assures Squirrel that no one’s taking the leaves and that the same thing happened last year, then encourages Squirrel to relax. Too wired to relax despite some yoga and a bath, the next day Squirrel cries “DISASTER” at the sight of bare branches. Frantic now, Squirrel becomes suspicious upon discovering Bird decorating with multicolored leaves. Is Bird the culprit? In response, Bird shows Squirrel the real Leaf Thief: the wind. Squirrel’s wildly dramatic, misguided, and hyperpossessive reaction to a routine seasonal event becomes a rib-tickling farce through clever use of varying type sizes and weights emphasizing his absurd verbal pronouncements as well as exaggerated, comic facial expressions and body language. Bold colors, arresting perspectives, and intense close-ups enhance Squirrel’s histrionics. Endnotes explain the science behind the phenomenon.

A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-3520-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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