A watery odd couple perfect for potential royals and scurvy curs alike.

PRINCE AND PIRATE

Two pet fish duke it out, scale to scale.

Prince, an entitled goldfish, and Pirate, a fish of a decidedly naughty nature, are content as can be within their own little bowls. Then along comes the terrible day when they find themselves sharing a single tank. Prince considers Pirate to be a downright “cheeky cod,” while Pirate can’t stand sharing space with this “worm-eaten peg leg.” Taking a cue from classic movies and sitcoms of yore, they make a line down the tank’s center constructed from white pebbles. But when a cute little dogfish enters their domain (complete with doghouse), they both realize the only way to win its trust is to come to terms with each other. While both the impetus for bringing these two mortal enemies together and the final denouement fail to ring completely true, there’s no denying that the book is a godsend to pirate-themed storytimes nationwide. Gunnufson delights in language, both Prince’s high-falutin’ royal speak and Pirate’s down-and-dirty buccaneer-inflected growl. Lowery, meanwhile, endows his flippered foes with enough humor and heart to sink an ocean liner. Such jokes as Pirate’s surreptitious lift of his eye patch to better view Prince will not go unnoticed.

A watery odd couple perfect for potential royals and scurvy curs alike. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17604-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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