An artful curiosity and perhaps a challenge for writing units, but not a great picture book.

WINGS

In a narrative told with just 12 rhyming words and dePaola’s bright collages, a fledgling takes its first flight.

“Wings!” the text proclaims as the chubby pink bird stretches its pinions. But: “Clings,” it continues as the little bird looks down, claws gripping the nest. The bird “flings” itself out, then tumbles and falls into a puddle (“stings”), “wrings” itself dry, inspects its bruises (or “dings”), gazes at some “things” (a snail and some worms), one of which it resolves to “bring” back to the nest. It “springs” back into the air, “sings” in triumph, flies in “rings” through the air, and “zings” with its nest mates up to two parent birds. While it’s a complete arc, the book feels more like a stunt than a story. Limiting the text to one-syllable “ing” words results in the not-really-apropos “stings” when the bird crash-lands, the at-first-inscrutable “dings” (children and adults alike will wonder where the dinging sound is coming from before the adult readers recall its alternate meaning), and the flabby “things.” DePaola’s illustrations too often fail to pick up the slack: The bird shakes the water off rather than “wring[ing]” itself dry; depicting the singular conjugation “sings” are the three nest mates with beaks open and the protagonist, its beak clamped shut on a worm—just who is singing?

An artful curiosity and perhaps a challenge for writing units, but not a great picture book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0510-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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