IT FELL FROM THE SKY

When a strange orb falls into their habitat, the Spider commandeers it, constructing “WonderVille” and selling tickets to long lines of curious insects.

The object (readers will recognize it as a yellow-green marble) invites considerable speculation. Is it a gumdrop, a comet, a chrysalis? The Spider, nixing the chatter, asserts that “whatever it is, it most certainly belongs to me,” insisting that the sphere has fallen into his web. He constructs a “Grand Exhibit” to showcase “the Wonder from the Sky.” As lines of visitors lengthen, admission increases from one leaf to two—then more—until visitors cease. The Spider presumes they’ve gone to invite prospective customers. That self-aggrandizing assumption is rendered moot by “the Unexpected Disaster. / A five-legged creature stole the Wonder and took it back to the sky.” (This deus ex machina is a child’s hand.) Time passes, WonderVille reverts to its previous state, and insects return. The Spider, ignored, experiences a nighttime epiphany as stars shine down. “They didn’t hide their light from anyone. Not even a selfish Spider.” Patiently, he spins webs, and “sure enough, more Wonders fell from the sky.” In graphite-gray spreads rife with delicate flora, colorful new “Wonders” (a thimble, pushpin, Lego, and more) captivate the neighborhood—free of charge. The Fans’ marvelous illustrations sparkle with nuance, from lofting dandelion seeds to the Spider’s dew-dropped web. The pro-community message is slightly undermined by the choice to portray a gendered, top-hatted, preponderantly male cast. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Well-nigh Wondrous. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5762-1

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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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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