Pity poor Charlie when he has to buy eight wedding rings.

SHARK KISS, OCTOPUS HUG

Two sea creatures who do not really leap to mind as cuddly-wuddlies are starved for a little smooch and a little squeeze from the denizens of the beach.

Charlie the shark and Olivia Octopus—who could have come straight from Hanna-Barbera/Nickelodeon central casting—have yearnings. Charlie wants a kiss, and Olivia wants a hug, so they study beachgoers in order to devise stratagems. Elementary, my dear Ahab. Just set up a kissing booth, or put on a play, or offer free rides, or throw a cookout, complete with “delicious algae soufflé.” Kisses and hugs always follow a good time, don’t they? The kids are a tad wary, though, and the parents are near hysterical. When their best designs are met with screams of horror, Charlie begins to shed a tear. Olivia moves to comfort him. A hug. A gentlemanly kiss in return. Not bad, not bad at all. Who needs those pasty landlubbers? Affection can come from the oddest and often most overlooked places. Let us just hope that Charlie never activates his urge to swallow Olivia whole when a kiss was all that was intended. Brain chemistry...what a mess it can make of things. But not here. Cornell milks the premise for all it’s worth, throwing verisimilitude to the winds; a puckered-up Olivia, eyes closed, should have readers in hysterics.

Pity poor Charlie when he has to buy eight wedding rings. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-220320-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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