Crisp design, her hallmark typeface (Century Standard), and touches of whimsy combine for another delightful garden tour...

HOLEY MOLEY

Deploying her signature graphics, Ehlert digs into familiar turf, depicting a vegetable garden whose pests are handily dispatched by a resident mole.

Mole narrates a staccato, rhyming text that matches her dine-and-dash lifestyle. She eats beneficial organisms like earthworms but also often devours such destructive infiltrators as the tomato hornworm and the cabbage caterpillar. Ehlert’s reductive paper collages depict Mole’s habitat as a vibrant scarlet tunnel threading an underground teeming with insects, worms, and the roots of neatly labeled, rapidly growing vegetables. Mole is cut (with pinking shears!) of fibrous gray paper and sports bright pink forefeet, tail, and snout. Angleworms are amusingly represented as red zigzags, and moths, worms, and grubs masquerade as facial features for the sun and several phases of the moon. The garden’s season is a strong visual theme. A seed potato sprouts and grows tubers and leaves (with Mole neatly nipping an infestation of potato beetles); the plant’s impressive underground bounty fans out across a double spread. As the garden grows, so does Mole: “my burrow seems small. Holey Moley! / I’m a fat fur ball.” Reclining against a mountainous veggie harvest, Mole muses on a new-home search. Slyly, she addresses readers: “Do you think I could move in with you?”

Crisp design, her hallmark typeface (Century Standard), and touches of whimsy combine for another delightful garden tour from Ehlert. (visual glossary of garden fauna) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9301-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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