For readers dying for a shark-themed Christmas book.

SANTA JAWS

Sharks of many kinds enjoy a deep sea version of Christmas in this underwater holiday story.

Kids on land send their Christmas wishes to Santa Claus, but young sharks “line up for Santa Jaws,” a great white shark in a Santa hat who thinks all their wishes sound “delicious.” Deep in the workshop, elfin sharks make toys from shells. Horn sharks “trim the Christmas kelp.” Lantern sharks light the night as shark families sing carols. And on the big night, Santa Jaws rides in his sleigh, the prow of a wrecked ship pulled by “hungry hammerheads,” and delivers fishy toys for good sharks and rotten fish for bad pups. A final spread gives fun facts about the eight shark species that appear in the story. The text is delivered in rhyming couplets, and the running joke about Santa Jaws wanting to eat everything is explained in a concluding note about the munching habits of great white sharks. The colorful illustrations put the ocean theme to good use: The pictures are cartoony, but the blue and green color palette is decorated with realistically colorful shells and seaweed. Only the Santa hat and shark-fin–shaped stockings superimpose artificial red and white Christmas colors. The text is bouncy, and the endmatter is informative. While this ephemeral offering is unlikely to earn a permanent spot on shelves, it will glean chuckles and interest from a select group of youngsters interested in marine life. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

For readers dying for a shark-themed Christmas book. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-24462-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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