Pick a pumpkin (and a different book) instead.

FROGGY PICKS A PUMPKIN

From the Froggy series

A class trip to the pumpkin patch is enlivened by a contest to identify and acquire the biggest, smallest, prettiest, ugliest, and best all-around pumpkins.

Froggy’s excited. So excited he makes up a song and teaches it to his friends: “Pumpkins, pumpkins, / muffins and pie! / Pumpkin faces / lighting the sky!” (Readers can sing along for the three reiterations, but they’ll have to make up the tune.) But while children will clearly understand Froggy’s excitement, they will surely call out the unsafe and even mean behaviors exhibited by Froggy and his classmates. On the bus, many students bounce or kneel with no apparent reprimand. When they arrive, Froggy strikes off alone while his classmates await direction from their teacher back on the bus. Travis takes the pumpkin Max had wanted (but couldn’t lift) for his own (“Step aside!” he says, though Travis doesn’t seem too put out), and Froggy rudely leapfrogs over his classmates to get to his choice. Finally, after Froggy just barely reaches the bus with his large pumpkin, his classmates and even his teacher laugh at him and his embarrassment when he drops it and it smashes. (Froggy is as clumsy as ever in this 28th outing, and frankly, the shtick is getting old.) Froggy gets the award for ugliest pumpkin (though he’s shown with an intact one at the end), and all the kids sing on the way home. Remkiewicz’s watercolors reflect the text, bringing out and visually expanding on the lack of cooperation among the students.

Pick a pumpkin (and a different book) instead. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-3633-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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