A barrel of giggles, exaltation of friendship, and slight science to boot.

SEA MONKEY & BOB

Sea Monkey (a dapper, bow-tied brine shrimp) and Bob (a green-speckled puffer fish) both face a worrisome underwater plight—density.

Surrounded by blue water and colorful corals, Sea Monkey is very concerned. What if his tiny but heavier-than-it-looks frame sinks to the bottom of the ocean? It is dark and scary down there. Bob thinks the idea is absurd, but Sea Monkey’s logical list of heavy items such as anchors, tubas, rocks—even dinosaurs—changes his mind. (“You have never seen a dinosaur,” admonishes Bob. “That is true. But I’m pretty sure they sink,” Sea Monkey fires back.) But now Bob is worried. What if his very light frame floats to the top? There is air up there! He begins to list items that float, and terror seizes both oceanic creatures. But just as their worst fears begin to come true (“It is happening! I think I am floating, Sea Monkey!”), a clever solution stops them in their tracks. Sea Monkey and Bob’s wry, deadpan riffs match Ohi’s humorous digital asides. The text is told entirely in color-coded dialogue, Sea Monkey’s lines printed in pink-outlined white letters and Bob’s in green-outlined yellow. The ending feels slapdash given the relaxed pacing of the pair’s banter to that point, but readers’ funny bones won’t mind.

A barrel of giggles, exaltation of friendship, and slight science to boot. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0676-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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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