Patient seekers will enjoy this Halloween party; others should steer clear.



Readers follow Bear on Halloween, searching for treats in this seek-and-find title.

Bear and his forest-animal friends are surrounded by autumnal sights and colors in Dudás’ boldly colored cartoon spreads, from piles of hay, corn, leaves, and bones to a field of tractors at the pumpkin patch and a cemetery packed with gravestones. Brief text continues the thin story of Bear and his pals and gives them (and readers) something to search for in each picture: a spider-ring party favor, a masquerade mask, a pocket watch. Flat colors and no shadows facilitate seeking, but it’s still not supereasy: There’s no answer key, though all the items can be found in Bear’s room at the end, and readers may need to see the gourd there in order to spot it in a crowded pumpkin patch. Children will search in vain, however, for the honeycomb that the opening statement (mis)leads readers to believe will be at every shindig. Though adorable, the animals are expressionless (and mouthless), and all animals of each species share the same costume: The raccoons are “mad scientists,” the owls are scarecrows, the deer are witches, etc.; Bear is the only bee. The animals labelled skunks, however, are pictured as badgers. In the end, Bear does get his honeycomb: His friends have found some and delivered it to the final party—at his house. Readers will wonder where it came from.

Patient seekers will enjoy this Halloween party; others should steer clear. (Novelty picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-257079-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Hee haw.

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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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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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