A less ebullient outing than usual.

HORSE & BUGGY PLANT A SEED!

From the I Like To Read series

Growing plants takes water, soil, sun, and patience.

In the same vein as a popular pachyderm-and-porker pair, a cartoon horse and a sun hat–wearing horsefly engage in agricultural pursuits—with minimal props—against a flat, neon background that changes color with each page or each panel. The goal of this adventure is to plant seeds and grow vegetables (or vegetables and fruits depending on how one categorizes tomatoes, though the book does not wade into that debate). Buggy is determined to get on with the job while Horse’s high energy levels and abbreviated attention span provide comedic distractions. Befitting this very elementary early reader, the dialogue-only text that peppers the story is sparse—limited to mostly one-syllable words and a few brief sentences, the longest of which contains six words. This entry in the series, alas, is not as successful as its predecessors. The combination of incredibly spare text and frequent jumps from one conversation to the next may leave some children feeling disjointed or confused. These leaps also distract from the final joke, which stems from planting unknown seeds; its subtle buildup is at odds with the broad humor of the characters. The ultrabright backgrounds often compete with tiny Buggy and pale gray Horse, overshadowing the duo. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 56% of actual size.)

A less ebullient outing than usual. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4498-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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Informative, empowering, and fun.

ROX'S SECRET CODE

Girl power abounds in this book about coding that introduces young readers to the world of programming while offering them hands-on activities via a companion app.

In this title that was first introduced as a customizable, personalized print-on-demand product, Rox has a superpower. Using code, she programs toy robots that can do things like make broccoli disappear—or mischief. When Dad tells Rox to clean her room, she quickly thinks up a bot that will do it for her, writing code that instructs her bot to use artificial intelligence to sort objects by color and type. Though Rox knows that there’s a high potential for her creation to rebel, the perks outweigh any potential adverse effects. Rox’s robot has her room neat and tidy in no time—and then the entire home. Chorebot’s AI allows it to keep learning, and it seems Chorebot can do no wrong until the robot decides to rearrange the entire city (both buildings and people) by type, style, and gender. Chorebot goes “out of his artificial mind!” Rox must now stop her creation…without the assistance of the internet. The artwork, styled in the tradition of popular superhero series, is peppy and colorful, and it depicts Rox as an adorable black girl donning a black bomber jacket and a pink tutu. A companion app (not available for review) allows readers to create a bot of their own.

Informative, empowering, and fun. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-57687-899-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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