It may be a bit odd, but it is a solid choice for rhyming play.


Will Duck speak a rhyme by contest time?

One day Monkey sees a sign hanging on a nearby vine: “Rhyming contest, enter now! / Register with Lou the cow. / Find a friend and rhyme in twos. / (Winners win a three-day cruise!)” Monkey is sure that he and Duck can easily win since they’re young and hip. He throws out an open-ended string of random words and phrases: “Beat! Sheet! Meet! Greet! / Eat some wheat, / then wash your feet! / Have a seat! / Trick or treat! / Hear a finch go tweet, tweet—” to which Duck responds, “Quack.” No matter what he does, Monkey can’t get anything other than that classic duck sound out of his friend. Then he has a brainstorm that wins them the cruise and that preschoolers will love participating in. After settling in at sea, Monkey gloats, “The two of us, we have a knack. / Don’t you agree?” And Duck’s response? “Let’s get some ice cream.” This sophomore effort from TV writer Hamburg (A Moose That Says Moo, illustrated by Sue Truesdell, 2013) might not startle with originality, but it offers the opportunity for children to play with rhyme and expectations. Fotheringham’s digital illustrations show the main characters as scratchy-lined, bold cartoon animals, their silly antics highlighted on monochrome backgrounds of various colors.

It may be a bit odd, but it is a solid choice for rhyming play. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-64514-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Safe to creep on by.


Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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