Venice’s Grand Canal is a splendid stage for this smooth reptilian operator.

ARRIVEDERCI, CROCODILE

OR SEE YOU LATER, ALLIGATOR

This sequel to Marcellino’s I, Crocodile (1999) follows the reptile as he emerges from hiding in the sewers of Paris to stow away on his former captor’s Venice-bound caravan.

The backstory—in which Napoleon snatched the crocodile out of Egypt—is summarized on the first page. While the emperor is busy looting Venetian palaces, the protagonist realizes: “This town was made for a crocodile!” Between the ease of travel through the canals and the scent of “ragù alla Bolognese,” he is enraptured. Following his nose, he encounters masked revelers who delight in the authenticity of his costume and invite him to lunch—and a ball. Suspense builds when the crocodile’s nemesis appears just as the hero is drawn into a “catchy mazurka” with “a rather forward young lady” (ultimately, the crocodile’s champion). Marcellino wrote the sparkling, witty, first-person narrative; created a dummy; and finished some watercolors before his untimely death in 2001. French illustrator Puybaret was recently invited to pick up the mantle. While each artist’s style is unique, their toylike figures and complex architectural settings are simpatico, allowing Puybaret to honor the original style while remaining true to his own. The result is a seamless story as hilarious and high spirited as the first. The subtle coloring is artful; the pacing—constructed with thought bubbles, insets, and dramatic double spreads—is perfect.

Venice’s Grand Canal is a splendid stage for this smooth reptilian operator. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0401-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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