A bug’s busy day highlights the many varied jobs of a police officer.

In rollicking rhymes with spot-on rhythms, Mortensen presents her hero: “9 A.M. / Behind the wheel, / riding in / my Bug Mobile. / Coffee, cruller, / cruise control. / I’m Captain Bob, / Bug Patrol.” Sound-effect balloons contain the radio messages from the dispatcher sending him to trouble spots: the ant swarm at the donut, beetle parking troubles, speeding spiders on low riders, a picket line at the Roach Motel, a lost baby flea and some crickets partying too loudly. While Capt. Bob’s solutions may not completely reflect real life—the ants get lectured about rudeness and helping ants in need—they are creative: Capt. Bob gives the picketing roaches a ride to more suitable accommodations…at the landfill. Challenging vocabulary will stretch readers' knowledge while giving them the context and picture clues they need to decipher them—perpetrators, urban, picket line, dignified—though some humor is clearly meant to tickle adult readers’ funny bones. Bell’s acrylic-and-ink illustrations nicely echo the tongue-in-cheek tone of the text. Her bugs wear clothes, drive cars and have fully expressive faces—the bad-boy natures of those speeding spiders are easy to discern. The speckled texture in her artwork lends itself nicely to all the scenes, whether urban street, bright green grass or fur on the back of a dog.

A fun spoof. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-618-79024-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...


It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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