BENJAMIN’S TREASURE

In 1951, beloved illustrator Williams (Stuart Little, Bedtime for Frances, the Little House books) published a novel called The Adventures of Benjamin Pink. Rosemary Wells has colored reproductions of the original black-and-white illustrations, using paints available in the ’50s in a palette from Williams’s own work. This episode has text that has been abridged for a picture-book format and the result is old-fashioned, but charming. On a clear morning, bunny Benjamin Pink decides it is a perfect day for fishing, and off he goes, waving to his wife Emily. But the day clouds over, a storm comes up, and Benjamin finds himself shipwrecked on a desert island. Lo! He finds a pirates’ buried treasure chest. He meets a turtle named Theodore, and, over mint tea and berries, they try to work out a way of getting Benjamin, and the treasure, home. Benjamin builds a raft, the turtle enlists his friend the porpoise, but another storm comes up, and our bunny hero finds himself without a ride and on the wrong island, with the treasure in the hands of monkeys. He starts over, is towed home by a shark, and finds his Emily waiting. There’s still a pearl in his ear left over from his adventures, but he tells Emily that she’s his true treasure. While the story is a bit forced, the images are vintage Williams, warm and fuzzy and just right. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-028740-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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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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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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