TIPPY-TIPPY-TIPPY, SPLASH!

A dozen years since they first made an appearance, and not a day older or wiser, Fleming’s three young cottontails return to bedevil Mr. McGreely (Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, 2002, etc.).

The bunnies still have a few tricks up their sleeves to get under Mr. McGreely’s skin. Where once they ate his garden to the ground, now they are doing their unintended best to undermine his vacation, one he has taken expressly to get away from the “floppyeared, pufftailed twitchwhiskers.” They manage to stow away in his car, then happily join him on his beach towel. Mr. McGreely storms off to do some shell collecting (“No bunny—nohow, noway—is sharing my fun day”). He returns with paltry fragments that he is very proud of, only to find that the bunnies have found a trove of spectacular shells. His kite flies for two seconds—again, he’s very proud—while the bunnies paraglide with their kite, and so on. In the end, there is a message about teamwork, which is not to be ignored, but it is Fleming’s text that raises the bar of joy to such heights, with her quirky internal rhymes—“Tippy-Tippy-Tippy, grab!…Tippy-nab”—and descriptive language. Karas invests each character with acres of personality. It’s a happy reunion with the bunnies for children, if a dubious one for Mr. McGreely. (Picture book. 4-8)

            

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4169-5403-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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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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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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