A heartfelt, timely allegory celebrating diversity, bravery, and solidarity.

THE BARNABUS PROJECT

This epic tale of escape and liberation, set in a clandestine underground lab producing genetically engineered Perfect Pets, stars courageous Barnabus, half mouse, half elephant.

Along with a collection of creatures, Barnabus is a Failed Project, dubiously destined, according to cockroach pal Pip, to be “recycled.” Barnabus and his roommates—Light-Up Lois, Mushroom Sloth, and others—spend banal days imprisoned in bell jars, fed, poked and prodded by the Green Rubber Suits. With their fates sealed, Barnabus avows, “We need to escape!” Discovering that his elephantine trumpeting can break glass, Barnabus frees the others. The brave misfits, pursued by their creators and captors, escape through venting, emerging into another lab. The band works together to free a fellow captive, an enormous, cyclopian marine creature, releasing a flood of tank water that sweeps them out of the building’s depths and into the pet shop above the lab. The escaped company, discovering the wide world foretold by Pip, finds a lake, sunshine, grass, and trees: “a place that might be home.” The Fan brothers (Eric and Terry, joined for this project by Devin) generate copious precisely rendered, action-packed illustrations that capture the lab’s sinister labyrinth, the poignant features of the “failed” creatures, and moonlit cityscapes whose skyscraper “mountains” reach “all the way to the sky, lit with their own stars.”

A heartfelt, timely allegory celebrating diversity, bravery, and solidarity. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6326-0

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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