Joining a growing array of coy, self-referential works, this one’s handsomely designed but a bit light on concept.

PLEASE, OPEN THIS BOOK!

Lehrhaupt and Forsythe reverse an earlier premise, as the manic animals from Warning! Do Not Open This Book! (2013) return, now exhorting readers not to close the book.

A monkey with a lantern illuminating ink-black pages rejoices: “You opened the book. We’re saved!” Illustrating many of the terrible things that can happen when a book is closed, Forsythe produces an alligator in a cast, a toucan with a bandaged beak, and a frightened lemur peeking from a box. A battered banana is proffered as further evidence. Stalling readers from reaching the book’s end, the narrator offers to change the story. “We’ll write something with a hero and heroine. You’ll like it. It will be a good story!” Amusingly, the earth-toned, digitally composed illustrations depict a gorilla hunkered over a typewriter; strewn about are drafts whose only word is “banana.” More bribes (that banana, now half-eaten) naturally won’t deter readers from turning the pages. The panicky monkey laments: “One more page and… // THIS BOOK WILL BE // …CLOSED!” This anguished word winds up on the back cover, with small-print instructions: “You can fix this. Flip it over and….” The metafictive silliness will require the suspension of disbelief: if a closed book could hurt its characters, wouldn’t a page turn inflict some minor injury?

Joining a growing array of coy, self-referential works, this one’s handsomely designed but a bit light on concept. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5071-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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