Readers will buzz to it like flies to manure.



From the Fly Guy series

Arnold’s buzzworthy Fly Guy series gets another spinoff, this time co-starring Fly Girl.

One day, Buzz invites Fly Guy to go to the zoo, inspired by a book about wild animals. Elsewhere, Liz invites her insect pal, Fly Girl. The human-fly pairs collide on their way with a “WHAP” (the flies) and a “WHUMP” (the humans). Once recovered, they decide to continue to their outing together. Buzz and Liz break off to go see the spider monkeys and naked mole rats, leaving Fly Guy and Fly Girl on their own. The two flies go looking for lunch, finding things that are “sticky,” “slimy,” “slippery,” and “smelly.” Their alliterative adventure culminates in a “scary” exhibit of “Creatures of the Night” (or, from their perspective, a “dark, dark cave”). “Gulpz” after “Gulpzie,” the flies spook themselves silly as they meet each animal. They hide in a box for safety. But will their humans find them? Using fewer than 90 words and their variants—including some decoded “fly talk”—Arnold keeps the text easy to read. The quick pace, including some genuinely surprising page turns, ups the entertainment factor. It’s unfortunate, however, that Fly Girl is presented with gender stereotypes: She’s pink and wears a bow on one of her antennae. Both Buzz and Liz present White. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.8-by-11.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 25% of actual size.)

Readers will buzz to it like flies to manure. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-54921-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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