The illustrations alone will keep readers occupied for hours.

BUNNIES ON THE BUS

Mayhem ensues when bunnies board the bus.

Don’t be fooled by the tranquil-seeming town in the opening scene; look closely and you’ll spy bunny ears. And on the title and copyright spread that follows, those bunnies sneakily take over the city bus behind the back of the regular driver, an elephant. The bunny behind the wheel seems to take the “Am I driving well?” sign on the rear of the bus as a personal challenge. (The answer is no, as many would-be bus riders and pedestrians can attest.) Repetitive phrasing in the rhyming verses adds to the frenzied atmosphere that quickly ensues, the author’s British origins evident in some of the word choices: “Pandas at the crossing! / Pandas at the crossing! / Their shopping jumping in the air, / spinning and a-tossing.” (This likely also accounts for the rhyming of “again” with “train.”) But Mantle’s busy and very funny illustrations will ease any potential confusion among American readers. Children can follow a pig letter carrier, a parent and child sheep going about town, a bear in a bow tie gathering gifts for and then dining with a sweetheart, a pair of masked red-squirrel bandits who are making their getaway after robbing a bank, and many other characters, not to mention the antics of those bunnies on the bus. The ending hints at a possible sequel as the bunnies disembark in favor of a train.

The illustrations alone will keep readers occupied for hours. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1116-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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