Adults who have been through the ordeal of a fixer-upper may appreciate the ending more than kids, but everyone will enjoy...

JACK

A new tale from dePaola is always a reason to cheer, and this riff on “Jack” tale variants will bring smiles.

In this cumulative folk tale, Jack lives on a tiny farm with his grandpa. He tells his grandpa that he wants new friends and to live in the city, and off he goes. Along the way, he encounters a series of animals that join him on the journey—11 to be exact. Chick, duck, goose, dog, frog, pig, cow, cat, sheep, horse and owl (and a crow that’s unmentioned in the text but nevertheless makes a lot of noise) parade along behind Jack to the king’s castle. When Jack requests a house in the city for him and his friends, the king says he has a perfect house, though it “might need some fixing up.” The decrepit, boarded-up building makes that quite an understatement, but Jack and company tackle the rehab with gusto. Voilà, a bright fuchsia house with a window for each of the animals. DePaola eschews a traditional happily-ever-after ending with tongue-in-cheek comments from an old man and old woman: He grumbles, “There goes the neighborhood.” And she chuckles, “It’s about time!” Repeated rubber stamps of each animal’s sound (and individualized colors) add zip (and noise) to dePaola’s signature style and palette.

Adults who have been through the ordeal of a fixer-upper may appreciate the ending more than kids, but everyone will enjoy the fun. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16154-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

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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