Telling one story well is enough of a challenge, but this book perfectly balances two stories and the characters within...

GARCIA & COLETTE GO EXPLORING

A rabbit and a fox who are close friends decide to take trips to space and under the sea, separated by distance but in perfect harmony.

Clearly best buds, Garcia and Colette nevertheless can’t agree on a shared trip destination, so each of them goes off to build a craft: one to explore the stars, another to dive under the sea. Using a giant stack of hodgepodge items including musical instruments, Garcia and Colette construct a rocket and a submarine, respectively, pack nearly but not quite identical stacks of peanut-butter sandwiches, and go on parallel explorations. What follows is a predictable but expertly constructed dual journey, with the watery depths and dark space informing each other in clever and kinetic ways. The two distant locations bleed into each other across the gutter or serve as neighboring counterpoints when smaller panels alternate between the two. Space and the ocean depths are, of course, beautiful, quiet, and, eventually, lonely. The two friends can’t wait to meet back and, together, take a new adventure in a vast desert: “There was sand beneath their feet. There were stars above their heads. There was darkness and quiet all around them.” Illustrations are dynamic and well-juxtaposed throughout, and the full-speed-ahead enthusiasm of Garcia and Colette is infectious.

Telling one story well is enough of a challenge, but this book perfectly balances two stories and the characters within them, adding up to more than the sum . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17675-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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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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